A Journey Through Technology

Week 3: How do we prepare parents for differentiation in the classroom?

on February 6, 2016

Most teachers communicate with parents one way or another throughout the school year. Communicating with parents can either be one-way or two-way. ” One-way communication occurs when teachers seek to inform parents…through a variety of sources, such as an introductory letter at the beginning of the school year, classroom or school newsletters, report cards, communication books, radio announcements, school Web sites, and so on. Two-way communication involves interactive dialogue between teachers and parents. Conversations may occur during telephone calls, home visits, parent-teacher conferences, open houses, and various school-based community activities.” (Graham-Clay, 2005, p.118)

For me, I see some parents during parent-teacher conferences, which occur during both the fall and the spring. This gives me a chance to talk one-on-one with parents to discuss any issues their child may be having in my class, as well as the positive things that are happening in the classroom. This would be a great time to discuss differentiation, but unfortunately I usually only see about 10-20% of all parents during conferences. The two best options I see for reaching more parents are sending a letter home to explain the use of differentiation in my classroom, and also utilizing my class website to explain more about differentiation.

Another option for sharing about differentiation with parents would be to invite them into my classroom. As a high school teacher, I had never really thought of doing this, but I think it could be a useful way of connecting with parents. Inviting parents to participate in the differentiated classroom could “allow parents to understand these approaches by participating in them.” (Crowe, 2004). I think if I could get parents to come and see how differentiation works, they might be more comfortable with it and more supportive of its use in the classroom.

According to Tomlinson (2001), teachers should let parents know their goals for the differentiated classroom. (Tomlinson, 2001, p.41) Parents should be made aware that “the goal is to provide challenge and success for all learners.” (Eidson, 2008) According to A Parent’s Guide to 21st-Century Learning, high school provides an opportunity for students to set goals and prepare for life after high school, and I think parents can help teachers determine how their own students would best benefit from this preparation.

I’ve noticed in the six years I’ve been teaching that when parents are more involved, their students usually perform better, so making it a goal to involve parents in the differentiation process is an easy choice. “The more you keep them informed about classroom news and include them in school happenings, the more they’ll feel like a part of the team.” (Mariconda) If I can get parents more involved in my classroom, they can play an important role in the differentiated classroom. Parents can encourage “students to let teachers know when assignments are a good fit and when they are not.” (Foucault, 2008)

I think that having parents become more involved in my classroom will be very beneficial to successfully differentiating my classroom and I look forward to working through this process.

References

A Parent’s Guide to 21st Century Learning. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/pdfs/guides/edutopia-parents-guide-21st-century-learning.pdf

Eidson, C. C., PhD. (2008, October 3). What Every Parent Should Know About Differentiated Instruction. Retrieved February 02, 2016, from https://tip.duke.edu/node/910

Foucault, A. (2008). Differentiation Tips for Parents. Retrieved February 3, 2016, from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/differentiation-tips-parents

Graham-Clay, S. (2005). Communicating with Parents: Strategies for Teachers.The School Community Journal, 15(1), 117-130. Retrieved February 4, 2016, from http://www.adi.org/journal/ss05/Graham-Clay.pdf

Mariconda, B. (n.d.). Five Keys to Successful Parent-Teacher Communication | Scholastic.com. Retrieved February 02, 2016, from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/five-keys-successful-parent-teacher-communication

Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.

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