Updated: Feb 7, 2021
There are many ideas and strategies that I have created over my 10 years of teaching and one of the the most effective is what I call the Trilogy of support. This is the partnership between teacher, parent and student; an invaluable element in the educational journey, happiness and achievement of a young person.
There are many parents over the years that I have never met, and that's fine; however, I personally feel that if there is a relationship between support at home and college then it provides a much more nurturing and stable environment for them to be confident autonomous learners.
When both of my son's went to secondary school, I felt a little redundant, everyday I would say "what did you do today" and everyday the reply was "not much". I know this distance can because even more when young people come to college and just because they are entering the young adult phase, it doesn't mean that us parents aren't interested anymore. it is obviously important for young adults to find their own path, and become autonomous and independent, however having that new support network can be so helpful as these learning links have often not been created at secondary school.
At the beginning of every new academic year, I make contact with the parents and guardians of my new cohort to introduce myself and provide them with my contact details; this is a great way of opening communication. Within the first month we also arrange a 'Meet the tutor' evening; this is also essential to create those links and put a name to a face. I send out regular emails to parents just letting them know what we have been doing or to provide them with any information and dates that they may need. I have found this to be an extremely beneficial strategy, not just for my students but also to enable me to connect with parents early on and ensure I get a better understanding of the needs of my students. If lines of communication are opened early, then the dialogue is much more likely to be freely exchanged as the relationship develops.
As a mum, I felt strongly that I wanted to play a part in the boys college education (having a little bit of background knowledge!). I am fortunate that both J and W have studied at the same college as me and on a course that is part of my wider teaching team. Their teachers share the same ethos as I do and I receive regular updates and emails from them letting me know how things are going. This has been crucial for both of the boys; firstly for J who left school and went off to do an apprenticeship and was adamant that university was not for him. After a year, he realised that the apprenticeship wasn't for him and joined the course with us at college. The support and encouragement he received allowed him to flourish and achieve grades that even he didn't think he could achieve. Bizarrely, he is now at university studying Psychology and thoroughly enjoying the academic studies that I knew all along were right for him. I firmly believe that if it wasn't for his teachers at college, and the partnership we created to support him he wouldn't be where he is today. With no 2 son, he has never enjoyed school, and his default position is the class clown even though he is extremely intelligent. At secondary school there were several teachers that just didn't get his 'chattiness' and they made his life miserable and branded him negatively which impacted on his attention and effort. However, he left secondary school with pretty good grades and joined the same course as J (a year later) and although he can talk a good assignment, he does struggle with getting the information from his head onto paper. Again, the support of the same tutors that encouraged J have had such a positive effect on W and they have given him self belief, support and understanding; it's a shame that his previous teachers couldn't have done this and his school experience would have been a totally different story.
Son no 3 started college in September on a different course, but sadly, his teachers don't share the same ethos as mine. We have had no contact from his teachers at all, and if it wasn't for the fact that I am fully conversed in everything BTEC then my stepson would struggle in terms of work requirements, layout and expectations. I have been fortunate that he has allowed me to help him and he is doing really well; but I do feel that if the relationship between home and his teachers existed, he would be having a much better experience at college.
The feedback I get from parents has always been nothing but positive and I hope that some of my previous students and their parents read this post and can provide some feedback in terms of how the trilogy of support was for them.
The Trilogy of support.
The student + Home + Teaching team = A supportive, nurturing framework for learning.