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Current Issues in Informatics within the School – Case Study Article

Topic: Important information for staff in the school building

Kelsie Wiedmar

February 16, 2019

There are many benefits to parent-school communications for parents and teachers.

Whether it be positive interactions about students or communication about problems with

behavior or grades, parent contact is one of the most important elements to student and

school success. According to the American Federation of Teachers, “Substantial evidence exists

showing that parent involvement benefits students, including raising their academic

achievement. There are other advantages for children when parents become involved –

namely, increased motivation for learning, improved behavior, more regular attendance, and a

more positive attitude about homework and school in general.”

Not only does it affect students positively, but the teachers have positive benefits from

it as well. According to the American Federation of Teachers, “Research shows that parental

involvement can free teachers to focus more on the task of teaching children. Also, by having

more contact with parents, teachers learn more about students’ needs and home environment,

which is information they can apply toward better meeting those needs.” This gives parents a

more positive view of teachers which in turn creates a more positive environment for teachers.

“Even though most districts offer opportunities to track their student’s data, a 2017 nationally

representative study commissioned by the nonprofit organization Learning Heroes shows that

86 percent of K-8 parents still rely exclusively on report cards for information.” (Jackson, 2018)
At Conway Middle School, I teach 8th grade reading and am the team leader on our

team. There is a ton of information daily that is given to students to be relayed to their parents

or guardians. A lot of times this information is very important to the success of the student and

the involvement of the parent in their child’s education. This week I have handed out two

things to students that are vital to the success of some students in the school building and are

imperative for parents to know what is going on in the school building. These papers were

parent-teacher conference forms and Saturday school permission slips. The problem comes in

with the information not getting to parents due to a multitude of reasons like students losing

the papers, forgetting to give them to parents, or just them not wanting their parents to see

them at all. How can schools ensure that this vital information is getting to parents without

causing a multitude of problems in the school building?

Parent involvement in schools plays a key role in the success of students in the

classroom. With family life changing in the past years and more than likely going to continue

into the upcoming years, there are less opportunities for parents to be involved in their child’s

learning in schools. Although there are still things like open house and parent teacher

conferences, the interactions are much more limited with many parents working full time and

having other commitments they have to attend to. This further adds to the problem with

communication in schools and is something that needs to be addressed when looking for a

solution.

Technology plays a key role in communication everywhere today and can certainly be a

key part in parent communication. As of now, Conway has a lot of different ways to keep

parents in the loop but none of them are highly effective for all parents. They may reach some
parents but others are still left out of the loop due to all of the different ways that are used. We

have the “Cougar Courier” that is sent out daily to a select email list of parents by the school

secretary that tells about important events happening that day at Conway. This is something

that parents sign up for. The problem with this is that it is limited in who sees this and only

contains select information. It is not individualized based of student needs. There is also an

application that the principal uses that will send out information that is school wide. This also is

to a select group that has emails and only sends out information periodically.

Individual teams have different ways of communication as well. Some use apps like

Remind, some use emails, and some just stick to phone calls. Again, there is not consistency

and it is not continuous communication and the majority of communication that comes from

teachers is negative because it seems like the priority at the end of the days. When it comes to

this problem, consistency is a big key whether it be with the amount of times parents are being

contacted, what they are being contacted about, and which parents are being contacted. With

all of the different types of communication that need to happen, there has to be a system that

works for all of them and can be easily kept track of for records on parent communication.

We have the PLP which is a parent contact log. This helps to keep track of all parent

communications in case anything comes up where students either are failing and parents say

they are not aware and in other cases of behavior instances to keep track of anything that

happens. It is very important to keep a log of parent communication as information to support

grades, behavior, and show that the school is doing everything they can to ensure student

success in the classroom. You can log emails, phone calls, letters home, and any other parent

contact to keep track of any parent communication that happens throughout the year.
It is up to the staff and the administration to come up with a system for consistent,

effective parent communication throughout the whole building. This system needs to make

sure there is a way of communication for every need throughout the building and a way to

ensure that this communication meets all needs of the school building, the students, the

parents, and the teachers. It has to work for special events, sports, paperwork, information

about what is happening in the classroom, grades, and behavior. Another thing that needs to be

taken into account when coming up with a plan for parent communication is the fact that not

everyone has the same access to all forms of communication. So, when deciding what type or

way to communicate as the administration and staff, you have to find a way that is inclusive for

everyone no matter what they can access. So, one way might not work for everyone and the

information might need to be sent out in multiple ways to ensure that everyone sees it who

needs to.

Some of the things to consider when looking at the ways to communicate to parents

effectively is how communication has changed in recent years and which ways of

communication are best used in society today. Most communication is done through cell

phones and that is what students and parents are used to. Parents are on the go most of the

time so it is hard to make sure everything is seen that comes home in a folder from school. A lot

of times students lose it before it gets home or forget to give it to their parents so it never

actually serves its purpose. This is another reason why it is so much more effective to find some

type of technological way to communicate to parents at home. Sometimes, we do use letters to

send home mid-year status notifications and that is one way to ensure it gets to its destination.
However, there are some things that cannot wait to be mailed because they need to be taken

care of immediately. So, for these things technology will be the best way of communicating.

Parent communication is one of the top problems in informatics in the school building

due to the vast majority of information that needs to be communicated on a daily basis. All of

these things are things to take into account when deciding the most effective way to

communicate information to parents from school. It says in the article 3 Ways to Improve

Parent-Teacher Communication by Amy Jackson, “Bae careful not to fall into a pattern of just

sending information out. Establish channels that enable parents to respond easily.”

Communication is a two way street and this is something that also needs to be taken into

account when creating an informatics plan for parent communication in the school building.

Administrators and school staff have a responsibility to come up with a better plan for

parent communication in the school building. Some of the things that have been mentioned

previously in this paper can give you information that the plan can be based upon and what

needs to be considered when making the plan. They will have to come up with a clear idea of

what effective communication of information looks like for the parents in their community.

They will want to make sure they are consistent with the communication, open about what is

going on in the school building, and making positive relationships and not just negative

interactions. “When you focus on transparency and consistency to build meaningful

partnerships with parents using the tools that work best for your community, you’ll be able to

work together to help all students succeed.” (Jackson, 2018)

It is imperative to find a way to ensure all parents have a way to keep up with what is

going on with their students in school. This plan can be made using technology, consistency,
and understanding of students. Committing to developing this plan for communication can

create a positive environment for students and parents and increase parent involvement in the

school and in the classrooms. This in turn will bring so much success to students because parent

involvement brings in so much to the table.

So, you are in charge of coming up with a plan to effectively and consistently provide

information to parents about their child’s school and classroom experiences. Make sure you

take in to account the differences in environments that students come from, the logging of

information, and the best ways to communicate in society today. These things will help to

develop a plan that best fits the school environment and is the most effective in raising parent

involvement.
Works Cited

Ascd. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol14/num01/3-Ways-to-

Improve-Parent-Teacher-Communication.aspx

Building Parent-Teacher Relationships. (2013, November 07). Retrieved from

http://www.readingrockets.org/article/building-parent-teacher-relationships

8 Ways Teachers And Schools Can Communicate With Parents In 2019. (n.d.). Retrieved from

http://www.kathleenamorris.com/2019/01/15/communicate-parents-2019/

Mardis, M. (2014) Mapping and agenda for education informatics in the K-12 domain.

iConference. (can be located at

https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/47379/392_ready.pdf?sequenc

e=2&isAllowed=y)

Carnegie Mellon University. (n.d.). Eberly Center. Retrieved from

https://www.cmu.edu/teaching/designteach/teach/instructionalstrategies/casestudies.

html