7 Questions to Ask Parents at the Beginning of the Year
As a new teacher, I was aware of the importance of connecting with parents and developing a positive relationship with them, but I was unsure of how to go about doing so. I would call all of my student’s parents or guardians within the first week of school to introduce myself and tell them a little bit about what they could expect their children to be doing in my class that school year.
If I had asked more questions about their child and then listened more intently to what they had to say, I would have gotten a better understanding of them. Based on my 20 years of experience and the experience of sending my child off to school, here are some questions I’d ask parents to develop an understanding of their child’s learning and a partnership to support it.
7 VALUABLE QUESTIONS
What do you consider to be your child’s most significant strengths or abilities? Please tell me about a time when you witnessed your child demonstrating these abilities in action.
What do you hope your child will say about his or her school experience this year when he or she returns home in June? What is the story you hope he/she will tell you about yourself?
Was it a positive or negative experience for you in this grade? What do you recall about your freshman year of high school?
What are your fears or concerns about your child’s performance in this academic year?
Would you like me to contact you this year and how and when would you like me to do so? What do you hope I’ll be communicating with you about in the future.
Is there anything else you would like to share with me about your child that you believe would be useful in assisting me in supporting his or her learning?
Is there anything specific you’d like me to ask you about your child?
While it would be ideal if teachers could meet with every parent and have this type of conversation in person, I recognize that our schools are not aligned with this priority and that we simply do not have the time. I believe that teachers of self-contained classrooms can make phone calls to approximately 20 to 35 families, and I am confident that the effort will be worthwhile. Teachers in middle and high schools might find it useful to have these questions answered over the phone over some time. They could also be asked through email and paper surveys or at some kind of innovative Back to School Night where parents could share their thoughts and feelings rather than teachers talking to parents.
As a mother, I’m writing this less from the perspective of a teacher and more from my own experience. Even though I have a great deal of educational experience, I still believe that my son’s teacher will know him in ways that I do not, that his teacher will have expertise that I do not, and that I will need her and rely on her to ensure that my son gets the most out of his fifth-grade year. I’m hoping she’ll consider me a partner, and I’m looking forward to meeting her next month.