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The Tutor/ School Connection

Tuesday, December 10, 2013
 
The Tutor/ School Connection

Teachers in training learn the importance of cultivating meaningful connections with their students and their parents in teaching methods classes. Teachers know that maintaining regular contact with parents is essential to nurturing a positive home/ school relationship. The benefits of such a relationship are too numerous to mention. Tutors, along with students and their families, can benefit from a similar relationship. This article describes several benefits of a positive tutor/ school relationship and lists steps for initiating contact.

Why a Tutor/ School Relationship?

As a Behavioral Management Counselor at a local juvenile facility for adjudicated youth, my responsibilities included maintaining regular contact with all teachers of the residents on my client list. This included phone contact and attending parent/ teacher conferences. My unit housed young men ages 13 – 17 in a semi-secure setting. By that, I mean that they had committed a “punishable offense” per Indiana Code, but the offense was not severe enough to warrant a term in the juvenile detention facility.

I was hired shortly after the above responsibilities were added to our program. Local public school teachers soon learned our names and began calling the unit to inform us of a resident’s particularly outstanding or poor performance on assignments and tests. Frankly, we were a bit shocked that teachers took the time – usually at the end of the school day – to call us and tell us this personally. We never expected this result.

This is a good reminder that teachers are very caring people. They genuinely want their students to learn the material and are willing to help in any way they can. As my example demonstrates, tutors who take time to contact their client’s teachers, especially in classes where they’re really struggling, will be welcomed with open arms! Once the door for communication is open, tutors may find that teachers are more than willing to drop the tutor an E-mail to inform them of things like upcoming tests or project due dates. Tutors can reciprocate by explaining some of the ways they are helping to reinforce classroom learning.

Getting Started

1. Permission

It’s important to talk with your student’s parents before contacting the school. Explain your reasons for wanting to talk with teachers and let them know that you want to be part of the “teaching team”. Be prepared to accept whatever answer parents give. In my experience, parents are happy to have another person on their side, helping their child(ren) get the most out of their education.

2. Contact

If parents give you the “green light”, let them know when you plan to contact the school and who you’re calling or E-mailing specifically. This will prepare them for the possibility of follow - up calls or E-mails from the school. Then, follow through and contact the school. Keep a list of 2 - 3 things you want to discuss or ask nearby when you call. Trust me, teachers will respect the fact that you’re getting right to the point, staying on track, and respecting their time.

3. Follow up

Once you’ve contacted the school, follow up with your student’s parents to let them know you made the call. If the teacher asked you to pass along any information, feel free to do so. If you’re not comfortable relaying messages between the school and parents, advise the parent(s) to call the school at their earliest convenience. Following up is very important! It lets parents know the contact has been made, alerts them to the possibility of a call from the school, and lets your students know that the adults in their lives are communicating about their education. Teachers will recognize and appreciate your team approach when they learn of your inclusive communication approach.

Summary

Tutors, their students, and their student’s parents all stand to benefit from a positive tutor/ school relationship. Instead of seeing themselves as an “outside service”, unrelated to the public school system, tutors should consider themselves part of the “teaching team” and work to nurture open communication that includes both student’s teachers and parents. Before calling the school, tutors should talk to their student’s parents to make sure they are comfortable with the proposed contact. Assuming permission has been given, tutors should make a list of no more than two or three things to discuss with the teacher(s). This will help focus the conversation while respecting the teacher’s time. Follow up with your student’s parents to let them know contact has been made. This will demonstrate your commitment to their child(ren)’s education and prepare them for the possibility of follow up calls from the school.

I hope you found this article helpful. Please take a minute to leave a comment, Like this post on Facebook, or Tweet the post via Twitter using the buttons on the right side of this blog page. If you have questions about whether a tutor is right for you, or if you would like advice for your unique situation, feel free to E-mail me using the “E-mail Jeff S.” button on my Wyzant tutor home page.