Tom Guskey was a keynote presenter tonight at the Finding Our Way Conference. He reminded us that the number 1 purpose of Grading is to communicate the achievement status of students to their parents and to students. His words regarding our communication with parents are noteworthy. He cautioned educators about our language……a language that is often confusing for parents. Parents dislike terms like emergent and developmental. A sample of parent interviews indicates they think emerging is some kind of monster in a lake and that developmental is thought of as remedial.
Thomas also stated how much parents appreciate descriptive feedback and pointed out that progress reports are but one way of communication with parents. The audience was surprised when Guskey indicated that when parents were polled, 60% of them feared phone calls from the school because they were worried it meant the child was in trouble or was hurt. He then stated how one administrator changed the culture in her school by wearing a belted holster with her CEL phone in the holster. She implemented the “Good News Call”. When she observed something positive about a child, her phone was immediately pulled out and a telephone call made to parents. After greeting the parent she gave a quick description of what the child was doing and then handed the telephone to the student.
Educators are familiar with the Annual Open House. Guskey’s research also shows that parents love the Open House. They love it because it is a chance to connect with the teacher. What do parents want to know about the teacher? They want to know if the teacher is competent and they judge this by how the teacher communicates and what they communicate with. Second, they want to know that the teacher cares about their kid.