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Parent-Teacher Communication is a three semester-hour course that provides the student with information on a broad array of issues relating to parents' involvement in their children's education. The course meets Department of Education requirements for content on parent-teacher relationships and is required for several degree plans within the College of Education at the University of Iowa.
Class sessions introduce the student to communication techniques that are essential to parent-teacher collaboration. After essential skills are defined, the course reviews important options for parent-teacher involvement available within schools. The strategies for involvement are considered within the context of selected issues affecting public education. Finally, the content considers legal/ethical and professional issues surrounding involvement with parents.
A quick note: While the course refers to “parents” in its title, consideration within the course is not limited to biological and adoptive parents who have custody of children. Discussion can be considered to apply to all forms of adult custodial care of children and the methods adults can use in their encounters with educators. As might be expected, many of the techniques considered are not limited to encounters between educators and adult caretakers, but have universal application.
August 27 – Overview of the course, group activity
August 29 – Rationale for parent involvement
History of family life, introduction
Read Berger, chapters 1, 2
September 3 – Skills in communication
Read Berger, chapter 5
September 5 – Skills, continued
September 10 – Skills, continued
September 12 – Assertiveness skills
Read instructor handouts
September 17 – Assertiveness, continued
September 19 – Negotiation skills
September 24 – Negotiation skills
September 26 – Exam One
October 1 – Parent conferences
Read Berger, chapters 4, 5
October 3 – Parent conferences, continued
October 8 – Parent interview activity (no class session)
October 10 – Work in triads
October 15 – Parent education
Read Berger, chapters 6, 8
October 17 – Parent education, continued
October 22 – Counseling and referral
Read review Web notes
October 24 – Consulting skills
Read review Web notes
October 29 – Diversity issues in working with families
October 31 – Families with children who have disabilities
Read Berger, chapter 9
November 5 – New concepts in services to families with a disabled member – guest speaker
November 7 – Exam Two
November 12 – Families with gifted children
November 14 – Emotions and values in communication
The hostile parent
November 19 – Working with other professionals
Team approaches/Guest speaker
November 21 – Working with distressed families
Read Berger, chapter 3, 10
November 26 – Parent interview activity (no class session)
December 3 – Legal issues in parent services
Read Berger, chapter 11
December 5 – The ethics of service, advocacy
December 10 – Change at the system level
Read Berger, chapter 7
December 12 – Exam Three (option 1)
December 17 – Exam Three (option 2, 12pm)
All readings above are from E. H. Berger. (2000). Parents as partners in education: Families and schools working together (5th ed.) New York: Merrill. Copies available at Iowa Book and Supply. Students are responsible for reading the Berger text, notes based on lectures and PowerPoint presentations posted on WebCT at courses.uiowa.edu, as well any handouts provided by the instructor.
The teaching methodology employed in this course seminar is a hybrid distributed learning approach. The hybrid approach combines both face-to-face classroom experiences (reading, lectures, scholarly discussions, group exercises, writing, and role-play) and technological learning experiences (synchronous and asynchronous) through the use of WebCT tools and the Internet.
Didactic – In class – Face-to-face lecture, dialogue, and discussion
Technology/WebCT (synchronous & asynchronous)
1. At the top of the page click “My WebCT.”
2. Enter your WebCT ID and password.
Experimental (synchronous & asynchronous)
Group activities, bulletin board postings
Assignments and Grading
Students are responsible for regular attendance and participation, submission of a report based a parent interview, and completion of three exams. Please contact me if you need special arrangements for exams.
Students have the option of (1) completing the third exam on December 12 or (2) completing the third exam during exam week. The University has completed scheduling for exam week; the published exam slot for the course is Thursday, December 17 at 12pm.
Each exam is structured to require three essay-length responses. On almost every exam, there will be three clusters of questions containing two choices that the student can select. The instructor looks for the following elements within a response:
I am interested in finding out how you make sense of the content of this course. The exams and class participation are my best means of determining how well you have grasped issues relating to parent-teacher communication.
Parent Interview Activity
Conduct a brief interview with a parent of a school-age (K–12) child. Collect information on the following items and post a summary on course's WebCT bulletin board of your impressions.
1. What kind of experiences have you had with your child's teachers and the school? Are you satisfied with the current relationship? Describe experiences that have been positive. Describe experiences that were frustrating.
2. Have there been any changes in your involvement with the school over time? What reasons might explain these changes? Do you believe that it is important for the child to have teachers and parents agree about school matters?
3. In what ways do you share/exchange information with teachers (or school) about:
4. What would be necessary for parents and teachers to work together more effectively?
Grades for the course are assigned on a traditional scale, with + or - grades given. Points for the class activities are as follows:
Exams – 100 points each
Activities – 50 points (includes interview posting, WebCT and class participation)
Total – 350 points possible
Points for activities are divided as follows:
20 maximum for interview posting
10 maximum for additional WebCT contributions
20 maximum for class participation (attendance)
Grades are calculated as follows:
A+ = 343–350 points
A = 323–342
A- = 315–322
B+ = 308–314
B = 287–307
B- = 280–286
C+ = 273–279
C = 252–272
C- = 245–251
D+ = 238–244
D = 217–237
D- = 210–216
F = below 210
Several University policies relate to this and other University courses.
An important starting point for University policies concerning student rights and responsibilities: www.uiowa.edu/~vpss/policies/index.html
Students with disabilities are encouraged to review information posted at: www.uiowa.edu/~oaa/assistin.htm
The College of Education's policy on student complaints and dispute resolution: www.education.uiowa.edu/coedean/policies/student_complaint/index.html
The College of Education's policy on student academic misconduct (plagiarism and cheating): www.education.uiowa.edu/coedean/policies/student_ac_misconduct/index.html
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