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As students reach higher grade levels, it seems like opportunities for establishing a good parent-teacher connection occur less frequently. Parents are just naturally more involved in their children’s education during the elementary years. Activities such as PTA meetings, school plays and being a homeroom mom keep parents connected to school life in the early grades.
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When kids reach junior high and high school, it becomes more difficult for most parents to communicate with their children’s teachers. Reasons vary, but for many, it’s a combination of the kids having several different teachers instead of just one, schedules becoming more hectic with multiple activities, and teens feeling like they just don’t need parental involvement.
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But, veteran, high school teachers know that parental involvement can make a huge difference in the academic success of teenagers. In my 29 year career of teaching high school students, I found that my job was so much easier any time I could establish a good relationship with a parent. By good relationship I don’t mean just the token being friendly and exchanging niceties. A good parent- teacher connection is a real partnership in providing what is best for the student.
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When parents are frustrated with a child’s behavior or lack of achievement, they are usually quick to place blame anywhere except with the child. The teacher is often the first target. If you can get those parents to see your genuine concern in wanting to help their child, they can become your best ally. I often saw drastic improvement in a student’s performance once the student realized that his parents and I were communicating frequently, and honestly, about his progress and what was best for him.
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Think of an involved and supportive parent as being an extension of your classroom. Each of you has equally important contributions to make. The more communication and information each of you has from the other, the better the chance the student has of being academically successful. Also, the support and help you get from home will make it much easier for you to create the best possible learning situation.
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So high school teachers, enlist the help of parents, encourage communication and develop those solid relationships. At first it may be time consuming, but in the long run, it really will make your job easier. More importantly, a good parent-teacher connection just might be the key to academic success for some of your students.