This week, we were joined at #gtchat by 3 educators of gifted children; Angie French, Heather Cachat, and Jeff Shoemaker. Angie is a GT Specialist for K-4 in Houston, Texas. Heather is a Gifted Intervention Specialist for 5/6 in Ohio and a SENG Model Parent Group Facilitator. Jeff is a Gifted Intervention Specialist for grades 5-8 in Lima, Ohio and OAGC Teacher Division Chair Elect. Heather and Jeff are Co-Moderators of #ohiogtchat on Sundays.
It’s no secret that parent-teacher relationships can often be strained; but even more so with parents of gifted children. As students begin to return to school, we took a look at ways to improve the relationship in a non-confrontational setting exploring ways to help all parties to work together for their children and students.
It was pointed out by the moderator that most teachers do not have a strong knowledge-base on which to draw about needs of gifted children. However, parents often don’t realize the restrictions and responsibilities placed on teachers today by their school administrations. This lack of knowledge can lead to misunderstandings. In addition, Jeff commented about the reluctance of teachers to acknowledge that parents usually know their child best. Friction can also be the result of competing goals and different perspectives of what is best for the child.
There are strategies which teachers can use to increase positive engagement with parents. Teachers need to renew their communication toolboxes each new school year; not rely on antiquated tools. They can seek out professional development regarding gifted education not provided at the undergraduate level. Heather suggested that teachers, “Validate their concerns. Parents need to know that teachers sincerely take them seriously.” Corin Goodwin, Executive Director of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, said, “Listening. Putting aside assumptions. Not dismissing parents – especially moms – like they’re all crazies or helicopter parents.Work on problem solving *together* as allies instead of antagonists.”
Parents can also work to forge a productive relationship with their child’s teacher. Heather told us, “Acknowledge the work teachers are doing with your child. Don’t talk yourself out of reaching out to your child’s teacher.” Jeremy Bond, a parent in CT, said, “Establish from the outset how you want to communicate and what you hope to learn about their classroom.” It can be beneficial to provide teachers with an information portfolio of the child’s behaviors (academic/social/emotional) outside of school.
The parent-teacher relationship can affect student achievement. Kids, especially gifted kids, are highly cognizant of parent-teacher relationships. Adults need to be aware of emotional repercussions that may result due to their actions and work to prevent any negative reactions. Mutual respect by all parties can enhance and propel student achievement.
Can technology bridge the parent-teacher communication gap? New technologies can only help when everyone understands how to use the tools available. Not every new piece of technology is right in every situation. Be aware of cultural concerns and the availability of whatever tech is chosen. (See ‘suggestions’ in the links below.)
Clearly, good parent-teacher relationships will have a positive effect on a child’s educational experience. All parties must be committed to continually improving this relationship. When a parent or teacher does not believe this is occurring, they should take steps to seek assistance. This may include working with school administrators, counselors, or outside advocates. The most important thing is to keep the best interests of the student in the forefront of all discussions. A transcript of this chat may be found at Storify.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Tuesdays at 8E/7C/6M/5P in the U.S. and Wednesdays at Noon (12.00) NZST/10.00 AEST/1.00 UK to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Page provides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community. Also, checkout our Pinterest Page and Playlist on YouTube.
Parent-Teacher Conference Worksheet (download)
Communication Apps (availability; not recommendations):
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.
This week marked our Back-to-School #gtchat which was centered on building partnerships between parents and teachers. Partnering is defined as establishing a long term win-win relationship based on mutual trust & teamwork; sharing of both risks and rewards. A full transcript may be found here.
We first explored reasons why parent-teacher relationships do not develop into winning partnerships and steps that could be taken to improve relations. Not surprisingly, lack of communication; lack of transparency regarding program options; and open-mindedness all ranked high in reasons for poor relationships. Parents & teachers judging each other can often harm good parent-teacher relations. Additional points to consider included:
- Teachers cling to mantle of expertise and make assurances and promises. Parents get angry and hostile in advance. ~ Justin Schwamm, Latin teacher from North Carolina
- When parents & teachers dump problems in each other’s laps, the ensuing ‘blame game’ only hurts the student. ~ moderator
- There must be understanding on each end that we are both working for the success of the student. ~ Brian Dinwiddie, educator
It was concluded that the best approach to a positive relationship was to begin communication early in the school year (even before the school starts is better) and not wait until problems arose. Parents and teachers should talk to each other directly; not through their child/student. Both teachers and parents need a ‘good news’ attitude … don’t limit conversations to problems. Adopt a team mind-set … everyone should be invested in a student’s success!
Teachers and parents shared some of the things that their schools did to foster parent-teacher partnerships. Many schools sponsored Open Houses either prior to the start of the school year or shortly thereafter. An Assistant Head Teacher from the UK suggested workshops for parents who had bad experiences with schools in the past to improve future experiences. Graham Andre, Year 2 teacher in the UK, talked about parent coffee mornings, parents as helpers in the classroom and always having an ‘open door’ policy regarding parents. Dr. Spike C Cook, elementary principal from New Jersey, shared this video from his school’s ‘Welcome Back Policy’:
The discussion then turned to the use of social media in schools and how it was used to build relationships between parents and teachers. Below you will find links to some of the most popular Apps in use by our chat participants. Angie French, GT Specialist in Texas, told us, “Our district embraces Twitter but not Facebook so much. All teachers also have their own webpages with newsflashes and we use them!”
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S., midnight in the UK and Saturdays 1 PM NZ/11 AM AEDT to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Pageprovides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community.
Parent Teacher Partnerships on Pinterest
Cybraryman’s Back to School & Icebreakers Page
Cybraryman’s Parent Teacher Conferences & Communication Page
Cybraryman’s First Days of School Page
Student Choice, Student Voice by Dr. Spike C. Cook
Preparing for Kindergarten by Dr. Spike C. Cook
Cybraryman’s Edmodo Page
Cybraryman’s Voxer Page
Remind (formerly Remind101)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
This year’s Back-to-School #gtchat discussed whether or not gifted learners could really be challenged in the regular classroom. Many different opinions were expressed including the belief by many that it was possible, but rarely occurred. A full transcript may be found here.
Most participants agreed that gifted learners do in fact learn differently; although several teachers pointed out that all children learn differently. This conclusion laid the basis for discussing various instructional strategies; their appropriateness and viability in the classroom over time.
Differentiation seemed to be the most widely used strategy for working with gifted students. A timely blog post by Ginger Lewman, “A Case Against Differentiated Instruction“, posed an alternate view.
Everyone in the chat seemed to agree that two factors … professional development in gifted education for teachers and teachers’ attitude toward gifted students … played a critical role in the delivery of services.
Differentiation for Gifted Learners (Fall 2013) from Richard Cash
Tips for Teachers: Successful Strategies for Teaching Gifted Learners from Davidson Gifted
Instructional Strategies for Gifted Education from the #gtchat Blog
The Miseducation of Our Gifted Children from Davidson Gifted
Gifted Kids and Elementary School from the Berkeley Parents Network
Motivating Without Grades from IEA Gifted
Promoting a Positive Achievement Attitude w/Gifted & Talented Students from Davidson Gifted