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How to create a collaborative partnership with your child's school.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to your child's classroom success often lies in miscommunication and a lack of involvement with the school and your child's classroom teacher. Missing assignments, missed teacher conferences, school activities and field trips can often be rectified with a few simple steps:

  1. Read the handbook: The handbook provides you with a wealth of information including dress code, grading policies, attendance policies, behavioral expectations and discipline policies. The handbook also contains the school address, phone number, web address, teacher emails and school calendar. Lots of confusion about the school schedule, grading policies and student expectations can be cleared up if you use your handbook for an easy reference guide.

  2. Check your google classroom or school grading site. Most districts now provide web access to grades. My district uses an online platform called "PowerSchool". Parents can check grades, find missing assignments, and check attendance. Many teachers also use classroom messenger apps like "Group Me." To be included, just give the teacher your email address for an invite or your cell phone number. "Group Me" allows teachers to communicate directly with parents about classroom activities, and changes to the schedule. Teachers also post daily lesson plans, upcoming assignment and classroom events on Google Classroom. As a last resort, always check with the students for letters and announcements from the teacher. Invest in a folder or student planner and encourage your student to keep all communication from the school in the folder. Many schools will provide student planners free of charge at the beginning of the year.

  3. If you do not have your teacher's email or classroom phone number, ask for it. Most teachers will include that information in their letters to the parent or classroom syllabus at the beginning of the year. If you don't have a class syllabus be sure to ask the teacher if they can provide a copy.

  4. Attend parent/teacher conferences, meet and greet nights and classroom activities if at all possible. If you can't make an event, ask if you can participate by zoom or at least schedule a time to meet with the teacher at a more convenient date. If your child is in the Exceptional Education program and has an IEP, it is imperative that you participate. During these meetings, a team of teachers and school professionals develop an individual education plan or curriculum to address your child's developmental needs, behavioral issues and physical needs. You are part of this team. The school is required to send you notifications of these meeting by law. You may also request an IEP meeting anytime you feel that your child is struggling and changes need to be made.

  5. Approach teachers with an open mind. In my seventeen years as an educator, I have never met a teacher "who was out to get a student." I have met teachers who were struggling with classroom management, did not know how to address out of the ordinary student behaviors, or just had a really large classroom and needed extra help that they were not receiving. Before jumping to the defensive or conclusions, listen to the teachers concerns with an open mind, offer helpful suggestions about how to handle your student's behavior or any concerns you might have about your student. Always be prepared for a meeting, write out a list of concerns, if you have conflict with the teacher, focus on the behaviors you have concerns about and how it is affecting your student. Avoid making personal attacks.

Following these simple tips can set your child up for a great school year or get communication back on track. It is never too late to become involved in your child's education, your student will perform better, and both you and your child's teacher will be happier. Truly the biggest investment you can make in your child's education is being involved.

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