Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Building Effective Partnership with Parents

To build partnerships with parents, the effective teacher utilizes diverse communication strategies.  This requires knowledge of one-way compared to two-way communication strategies (Townsend, 2009; Barbour and Barbour, 2001; Berger, 2000).  While one-way communication strategies such as newsletters, school handbooks, and progress reports, help to keep parents informed about school activities and policies, effective partnership with parents requires proficiency with two-way communication strategies.  Productive partnership is an outcome of teachers and parents engaging in a collaborative exchange of ideas that is more than simply sharing assessment and instruction information (Shapley & Case, 2004).
Although numerous teachers seem comfortable effectively building partnership with parents using little apparent effort, the reality is they mastered the emotional intelligence skills and are therefore aware of their personal needs in relation to social dynamics.  These teachers exhibit genuine interest in the parents’ point of view.  Therefore, they developed effective communication strategies and willing use two-way communication skills for building parental partnerships. 
However, most prospective teachers need practice in developing skills for building effective parent partnership.  Knowledge of the need is insufficient to ensure effective practice.  Simulations and multimedia case studies can build the prospective teacher’s self-efficacy.  Research by Walker and Dotger (2011) identifies the advantages of such a process for optimizing this essential correlate of Effective Schools Research.   
Institutes of Higher Education providing teacher preparation programs need to offer this type of professional development.  Otherwise, prospective teachers enter the classroom ill-prepared for embracing and optimizing the home-school correlate.  Twenty-first century tools such as avatar simulations and multimedia case studies can also supplement Graduate Clinically Rich Teacher Preparation Programs. 
Effective dialogue between a teacher and parent include questions that lead to answers while requiring more questions.  Theoretically, a perfect convergent, or closed-ended, question would have only one answer.  By contrast, a perfect divergent, or open-ended, question would have infinite answers.  The effective teacher seeking collaborative partnership understands the better question usually is the one that provides the most answers.
Usually, a change in school climate is required to optimize the home-school correlate and thereby forge effective parental partnerships.  Effective leaders plan for teachers needing professional development and encourage utilization of action research to improve instruction and classroom assessment (Marzano & Waters, 2008).  Scheduled staff collaboration improves school-wide research practices.  Professionals readily sharing their successful strategies for effective home-school relationships and willingly conducting action research optimize life-long learning, which promotes sustained educational improvement.

To cite:
Anderson, C.J. (April 3, 2013) Building effective partnership with parents. [Web log post]
                Retrieved from
Barbour, C. & Barbour, N. H. (2001). Families, schools and communities: Building partnerships
for educating children. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Berger, E. H. (2000). Parents as partners in education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill
Prentice Hall.
Marzano, R. & Waters, T.(2009).  District Leadership That Works. Bloomington, In: Solution
                Tree Press
Shapley, K.L. & Case, B.J. (2004) Building partnerships with parents. Retrieved from
Sweetland, R, (nd) Ways to classify questions. Retrieved from:
Walker, J.M.T., & Dotger, B. (2012). Because wisdom can’t be told: Using comparison of
                simulated parent-teacher conferences to support prospective educators’ interpersonal skill
                development. Journal of Teacher Education 63 (1): 62-75. Retrieved from