Somewhere—I don’t know where—along my professional journey, I came across the idea of a Friday Five. Every Friday I randomly call at least five parents and seek their opinions on how our high school is doing and how we can improve our school.
For the most part, parents are very complimentary of our school. They credit our teachers and staff with creating an enriching and caring environment.
Some of their suggestions are beyond my lowly reach (although I’ll gladly share it with my superiors). Suggestions that fit this bill: 1:1 computing, BYOD, course offerings, and school board policies.
The phone calls have enabled the school’s administration to pinpoint and address problems. The most frequent parental complaint—one that mirrors results of our annual parent survey—teachers who don’t communicate routinely and effectively. Over the last couple of years, we’ve slowly adopted an online course management program. Teacher use of the system is varied, leading to legitimate parent complaints because some teachers post grades online, others don’t. Some post assignments in the course calendar, some don’t. As an administration, we’ve begun to address these discrepancies and other means of improving parent-teacher communication. Immediately, I email/talk to teachers who parents would like to hear from.
After getting over the initial shock caused by, “This is Reed Gillespie. I’m an assistant principal at Kettle Run,” every parent has been appreciative of my efforts to reach out and solicit their feedback. The initial call has served as an impetus to future conversations as parents have emailed or called later to both praise and gripe.
Most importantly, seeking parental feedback sends a message to parents that we value their opinions. It opens our eyes to strategies for improvement and sets the tone for school-parent communication and engagement.