Over the first few weeks of Term 1, 2017 I began making contact with the parents, caregivers and whanau of my Year 9 tutor class. A simple phone call home was a useful starting point in establishing a positive relationship between school and home. I hoped this would open up communication and allow me to feel more comfortable contacting home throughout the year.
This initial contact with home early in the school year seemed particularly important in my new role at Tamaki College where the vast majority of students are Māori or Pasifika. As noted in both Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success and The Pacific Education Plan (Key documents focused on improving educational outcomes for Māori and Pasifika learners in Aotearoa New Zealand) making connections and building strong relationships with parents, whanau, iwi and communities is a key step in accelerating success of both Māori and Pasifika learners.
Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success 2013-107
The Pacific Education Plan 2013-2017
I began calling the homes of students in my Year 9 tutor class. During this process I noticed an emerging themes. A number of the parents and caregivers initially seemed to be a little stand off-ish and slightly guarded until I had reassured them their child had not done anything wrong and I was simply calling to introduce myself as both their tutor teacher and social studies teacher. Once parents and caregivers understood the reason for my call the tone shifted and the conversation became positive. For the most part the families informed me their children were settling in well and enjoying school. Several parents were extremely pleased I had made contact with them and thanked me for taking the time to call.
Upon reflection I realised that the families of my Year 9 class were initially slightly defensive and this is perhaps a reflection of the busy nature of teaching which meant often contact with home is made when their is an issue or problem at school. This reflection made me realise how important it was to contact home with positive news as much as possible. In addition to beginning this relationship with home on a positive note, these phone calls also allowed me to find out important information such as health issues and current living situations of students in my class. This type of information would not have been so easy to find out had I not taken the time to call home.
In conclusion, calling home on a positive note early on in the school year has been incredibly beneficial for a number of reasons. Firstly this allowed me to introduce myself, find out additional information about some students and hopefully made myself more approachable for parents and caregivers in my tutor class. This experience in particular further reinforced the idea that calling home with positive feedback is especially important as parents unfortunately are used to being contacted only when something is wrong.