There is no doubt that positive relationships with students are essential for teaching and learning success. According to Hattie in Visible Learning it is one of the top three teacher strategies with a 0.72 effect size! Obviously anything that a teacher does to undermine student relationships is bad. Narking home to parents fits snugly into this category.
A nark is a ‘betrayer of confidence’ an ‘informer’. Obviously, I’m not suggesting that teachers, who are simply doing their job by phoning home when students misbehave, are narks. Or am I? I certainly didn’t feel like a nark when I phoned home about a truanting student, but the student helpfully put me straight. It got me thinking.
. My strategy was to make early contact with the parents of all students that I teach and maintain regular dialogue regarding progress and deadlines e.t.c. If I did find it necessary to provide negative feedback, the students would hopefully see it as part of the wider aim of raising their achievement.
Student voice following this inquiry was very interesting.
Half of the students involved did not mind the fact that I had contacted home. The other half, however, strongly disapproved and felt that it created unecessary problems with parents.
Despite the fact that so much research evidence indicates that parents have a massive impact on student performance the feedback from this inquiry makes me question the value of involving them. My hunch is that the majority of research has been carried out with primary rather than senior students. I will need to look into this in the next cycle of my inquiry.
Interestingly, 60% of my students suggested that I continue with my aim of contacting the parents of future students, but this may have more to do with schadenfreude than appreciation of the strategy. With increasing use of live reporting it will be impossible not to involve parents, but this will need to be carefully managed. The supportive context needs to be fully explained and parents need to be able to opt out the communication if they feel that their child has the skills needed to cope without their support. All communication needs to be carefully managed in an environment where the best interests of the student are prioritised.
Hattie ranking: Teacher effects – visible learning. (2009). Retrieved from http://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/hattie-ranking-teacher-effects/
What Research Says About Parent Involvement | Responsive Classroom. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/what-research-says-about-parent-involvement/
Young, J. L. (2017, January 25). The effects of ‘helicopter parenting’ | psychology today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/when-your-adult-child-breaks-your-heart/201701/the-effects-helicopter-parenting