Katharine Greene, a middle school English teacher from AHLF Junior High School in Searcy, Arkansas is familiar with one historical battle fought by teachers and students across the world: that is the epic battle of homework. Teachers everywhere assign work with optimistic expectations, only to be met the next day with empty hands!
It's an ongoing struggle, but thankfully, Katharine was kind enough to share her secrets to winning the homework war!
1) Describe the struggle of getting students to turn in homework.
In quarter one and quarter two of this school year any time homework would be sent home I usually only got back about 50% the next day. Then would begin the struggle of daily reminders and tracking down homework to avoid students receiving a Zero from simply not bringing the homework back to school.
Often times I would email or call parents individually but there were just so many, I would end up staying at school till 6 or later trying to reach them all. Remind apps are a hassle because parents have to sign up to receive anything to start with. However withSchoolStatus, I do not have to require the parents to do any extra effort except type Y to receive the message from their child's school. Making it easier for parents to be involved is a huge benefit of SchoolStatus. Parents are busy with careers to support their children, but that does not mean they do not want to be an active part of their child's education.
2) Why does it help to get parents involved?
Getting parents involved creates a support structure for student success. When parents and teachers are all on the same page and have the same expectations for students, the students reap all of the benefits. With SchoolStatus I send out a simple broadcast to all of my classes when I have homework, large assignments, required reading, or anything that parents have the ability to help support at home and let them know due dates, points, and expectations of that assignment. So far I have had around 95-98% of parent participation when I send a broadcast. However, it is more than just parents saying, "You teacher said you had homework." I have had parents messaging back asking questions because of convenience and comfort.
As for my current homework rate, I have been consistently using SchoolStatus since the new year and my return rate for homework went from hovering around the 50% rate and now my homework return is over 90%. This helps students grades tremendously because now they are not losing points for being late. I was so shocked at the difference a broadcast made once or twice a week, but the evidence was overwhelming.
3) What steps do you take to get parents involved? How do YOU do it?
I let parents know that I have an open door policy. I am always available and always want to hear from them. I used to store all of my students contact numbers in my phone, so I would never accidentally let one go to voicemail or miss an important call. However, SchoolStatus allows me to have all of the possible contact information without losing my privacy or typing in hundreds of numbers. I have been aiming to do 6 personal calls a week with SchoolStatus, one for each of my classes. I hope to continue to use SchoolStatus to maintain a welcoming presence to parents and families.
4) What advice would you give other teachers about talking to parents about things like homework?
Broadcasts are wonderful tools. They take less than five minutes but have endless rewards. Parents love hearing about how to help their children find success. When I send mine out I start with a warm greeting and thank parents for their awesome support on the previous or current assignment. Then, I state assignment name, points possible, and due dates. If the assignment is a project of types I try to have simple 3 steps or less overview to help parents better assist their students. Parents have showered back support thanking me for keeping them in the loop and asking how they can support further.
5) How can you tell if your communication efforts are working?
The saying 'the proof is in the pudding' comes to mind when asking if communication is effective. When parents are messaging you regularly for serious inquiries about grades or assignments and positively trying to impact their students' education and progress, it warms your heart. Parents want what's best for students, just like teachers, and sometimes due to miscommunications teachers and parents find themselves at odds. SchoolStatus allows me to communicate frequently, with purpose, conveniently and offers parents the same in return. I can not wait to compare my overall class averages at the end of Quarter 3 to see what improvement consistent, relevant communication has made in the big picture.
Massive thanks to Katharine Greene for sharing her experience and success with us! To find out more about Katharine's success using SchoolStatus click HERE: