Parent Coffee Chats

We reduced parent anxiety and build stronger partnerships by inviting parents in for a series of Parent Coffee Chats.

Photo of Lauren Teather
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When students "level up" to new buildings (starting Middle School or High School) parents often have new questions and concerns about their child's new experience. By hosting a series of "Parent Coffee Chats" focusing on topics specific to new changes, parents have an opportunity to spend time in the building and classrooms, hear directly from the teachers, and get a sense of how things are being run in their child's new surroundings.  A bonus is that parents feel welcome in the building, and they see that others share their concerns and issues as their children "level up" through the years. 

Share research or student experiences that informed your idea!

The topics for our Parent Coffee Chats this fall included curriculum , assessment, communication, and our online gradebook. For each one, our administration splurged on decent coffee and the teachers baked cookies and treats for the parents (we are lucky to be in a school that can afford such things!). Since implementing this model, we have noticed a significant reduction in parent anxiety and stronger partnership as the year progresses.

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Photo of Nicole Cummings
Team

Hey Lauren,

My name is Nicole Cummings and I am an Ambassador at The Guild. Thank you so much for sharing your idea, we are excited to have you as apart of our Teachers Guild it takes a team collaboration. I agree simply getting parents in the building so vital. You mentioned above that you all noticed a decrease in parent anxiety through events such as this. Do you mind sharing more about how you all are gathering data pertaining to how parents are feeling and what they need? I am looking forward to hearing more about this idea.
Thanks
-Nicole

Photo of Lauren Teather
Team

Hi Nicole. Thanks for your comment and question. We have not gathered data in any formal capacity. Rather, we have collected anecdotal evidence through parent teacher interactions such as conferences, email, and student reflections that are completed with parents at home. It is a big transition from elementary school to middle, and while we anticipate the many questions and concerns parents will have, we obviously can't get them all. Through these parent coffee's we can get a better sense of what questions parents have and possibly address those in another session if needed. We are always open to adapting our topics to suit the parents needs. I feel that even parents who are unable to attend the sessions feel more welcomed by the invitation alone. It has been a wonderful addition to our curriculum.

Photo of Nicole Cummings
Team

You are so right the transition is hard for all the parties. I'm glad that parents are showing up and responding to the invite.

Photo of Jessica Lura
Team

Lauren,
Thanks for sharing your idea. I agree that transition points, such as moving to a new building, are particularly stressful, and it's awesome that your school is supporting the parents with these Parent Coffee Chats. Do you also offer something similar for the students?

Photo of Lauren Teather
Team

Hi Jessica! Thanks for your comment and question. Most of the questions and concerns that our students have are addressed by the classroom teachers. We used to run a 6th grade "bootcamp" when we first became a 1 to 1 school, but now that the 1 to 1 program has rolled down to 4th grade, it's not necessary for that. We are a highly collaborative team and so usually the transitional issues are dealt with by the classroom teachers.