ELEMENT 7TEACHERS ARE ACTIVE MEMBERS OF THEIR PROFESSIONAL AND THE WIDER COMMUNITY
I HAVE… an understanding of the importance of making links between the classroom, wider school and the parents and community. I have written a mock letter to parents in order to communicate the learning content of the classroom, which I have included as evidence. I have effectively worked with a number of teacher’s aides, and community-based personnel (such as photographers on school photo day) during my pre-service teaching experiences. As a pre-service teacher, I have not had much experience in directly communicating with parents and involving them in the classroom, however, I have read professional articles written about this topic and summarized their findings to promote my learning in this area, an example of which has been included as evidence. I have therefore considered ways in which I can as a practicing teacher involve parents and the wider community in the class and school.
I WILL… use every opportunity to converse with parents regularly during practicum. Writing a letter home might be a useful way to introduce myself to parents and what I will be teaching during both my practicum and Internship, if necessary. I will seek to involve parents and teacher’s aides (if available) in the classroom at every possible instance. I would like to look into classroom websites as a means of communication between the teacher, students, parents and wider community.
GOAL FOR PRACTICUM: Actively seek to communicate with parents and consider ways to engage them in the education process.
I NEED…to observe and find out about how current teachers are promoting links between the classroom and the home and community, using these observations to improve and inform my own teaching practice. I need to look at examples of and read about the use of classroom websites as tools to communicate with parents, as ICT is a convenient and increasingly popular way to involve parent’s in their child’s learning (Jenkinson, 2006, p. 19).
With this in mind, I can take the following steps towards my goals for practicum:
1. Discuss sending a letter home to parents about my involvement in the class on my Pre-Prac visit.
2. Write a note to a parent each week detailing the progress or exceptional work of their child.
3. Access information on class websites and compile information about what could be included on a class website.
I BELIEVE…it is important to have the input of students, teachers, parents and the wider community to enrich the learning experiences of a classroom. Partnerships between the home and school have been found over thirty years of research to; improve learning outcomes, empower families and contribute to a successful schooling experience for all involved (Jenkinson, 2006, p. 18). Collaboration and effective communication with parents is therefore essential to quality teaching, and establishing channels through which to do that should be the teacher’s responsibility. I believe it is important to utilise the skills and professional and cultural knowledge of parents as well as other members of the community in order to promote quality teaching and learning in the classroom, as parents especially can contribute a wealth of knowledge about their children (Jenkinson, 2006, p. 19).
Element 7 Evidence
Annotations for the Evidence
I have included as evidence of my achievement of Element 7:
A mock-letter written as part of a PDHPE Unit of Work home to parents. It demonstrates my acknowledgement of the importance of informing parents about the content of lessons and class activities. I communicate in a clear and articulate manner and invite questions from parents, as I believe open communication channels are important to establish. This shows my capacity to engage parents in the education of their children and communicate with parents effectively. 7.1.1, 7.1.2, 7.1.3
I have read some research-based writing about parental involvement in classrooms and summarised the main points to show I have background knowledge on the importance of collaborating with parents. These summary points can be used to inform my teaching in the future, as they indicate that parental involvement can improve classrooms and schools and create positive learning environments. As such, I have a basis to justify meaningful collaboration with parents as a future teacher. 7.1.2, 7.1.3
Mock-Letter to Parents
I am writing to inform you of the content to be explored in an upcoming Personal Development, Health and Physical Activity (PDHPE) Unit called “Good Grief!: Coping with Grief and Loss”. The NSW PDHPE Syllabus includes the topic of Grief and Loss within the strand of Growth and Development, with the main outcome of students identifying strategies to cope with life changes.
This is an important topic addressed by PDHPE in the classroom and throughout the school, being relevant to the lives of all students. To provide brief evidence of the importance of teaching this Unit, the Australian service Kids Help Line identified that Grief and Loss was the tenth most common reason for children seeking counselling in 2006, with the majority of children seeking to talk through their experience and gain advice for returning to ‘normal’ life.
Due to the sensitive nature of Grief and Loss, a novel titled “Just One Tear”, written by fourteen year old Kate Mahon, has been selected as the stimulus of this unit. “Just One Tear” uses diary entries of the main character, a thirteen year old boy, to express the emotions and coping strategies related to his grief and loss. The main character witnesses his father’s shooting murder, and subsequently has to endure the trial and his mother’s pain. His only solace is the beach and a single friend, who himself suffers from depression and ultimately commits suicide. The novel explores the processing of emotions after a traumatic event, the impact of a death within a family and the slow healing process of coping with Grief and Loss.
With the use of the novel as well as other planned learning experiences, students will therefore be provided opportunities to identify types and sources of Grief and Loss, suggest strategies to cope with life changes, use and develop skills in communicating, interacting and problem solving, and recognise their own health values. As such, this Unit is designed to equip students with decision making and problem solving skills required when life changes occur, with a particular focus on making positive health decisions and looking after others in the school community dealing with Grief and Loss.
If you would like more information about the topic of Grief and Loss, the following resources are recommended for parents/carers:
ü Helping Children in times of need: Grief, loss, separation, divorce. A handbook for parents assisting children through grief and loss. By Judith A. Parker, 2003.
ü Family Health Kit (Grief and Loss chapter can be downloaded from: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/pubs/2000/pdf/familyhelpkit_9-10.pdf) If you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact the school to arrange an appropriate meeting time.
Classroom teacher Principal
Summarised points from a professional article
The following points are taken from the article listed below and relate to the benefits of collaboration with parents in the classroom.
Machen, S.M., Wilson, J.D., & Notar, C. E. (2005). Parental involvement in the classroom. Journal of Instructional Psychology 32(1), pp. 13-16
- Schools can be improved with parental involvement
- Parents should be given an active part in decision-making processes
- Children benefit when parents take interest in their learning
- Including parents in the classroom can result in a positive atmosphere and higher academic achievement of students
- Teachers should create frequent opportunities to communicate with parents, barriers to involvement should be addressed (eg. the need for child-minding), provide parent workshops to support parent learning.