Partnering with parents, keeping them informed, Canvas

Since we returned from winter break I’ve been making a concerted effort to reach out to parents. Why the awakening? I had been so focused on implementing interventions (grade level lunch crew for students who don’t turn in assignments across multiple subjects, pulling students into math lab, etc.) that parents were left out of the loop. It came to a head when a parent never knew her child had been in lunch crew at the request of multiple teachers more than 10 times in one quarter.

I want to blame our RtI program for taking my eye off the ball. I wanted to hear, “Let’s bring in the parents when this isn’t working.” RtI has many shortcomings, but it’s my responsibility to communicate to parents. I didn’t. I should have called or emailed instead of relying on my online grade book.

Partnering with parents, keeping them informed
Two weeks ago I had a twenty minute phone call with a parent. She revealed intense frustration. Frustrated with the teachers; frustrated with her child; frustrated with herself. To repair the relationship I started contacting Mom daily, informing her if an assignment wasn’t turned in, if her child skipped lunch crew, and an occasional success when her child did turn in an assignment. The phone call and email communication have been replaced with notations in the assignment notebook. An assignment contract is now in place. Time will tell if this intervention will work, but at least the parent has been formally informed.

On Friday I contacted a few parents about their student’s eligibility for sports. One parent was quite frustrated because their child chooses to show them only what he wants to them to see. With most assignments on the iPad Mom is looking for transparency. The timing could not have been better.

Earlier in the week I sent an email notifying parents that our learning management system, Canvas, is now accessible to parents. Instructions on how to create an account were included in the email. So far four parents have created an account.

This post ends happily for me because this is the transparency the parent is looking for. My Canvas course is structured using pages. Each page provides an overview of the week, with links to in class practice, assignments, etc.

canvas week

When the parent creates the account he/she will also be able to see the feedback I’ve given to the student. For example, here’s a student who is not balancing equations with the one-step process.

student work
Textbook page in Word; pdf created for students to load into Notability.

I provide feedback.

student work feedback

Several days pass. The parent hasn’t created a Canvas account but must have talked to the student about correcting the work. The student resubmits.

student work2

I provide this feedback.

student work feedback2

Canvas is not the be all end all, but the transparency it offers does help keep parents informed.