Students are more likely to succeed if teachers have a positive perception of their parents, a new study finds. In particular, if teachers perceive their student’s parents to be highly involved in the academic lives of their children, the teacher will pay more attention to that student, and vice versa.
Dr. Keith Herman, lead author of the study and professor at the MU College of Education explains,
“If a teacher has a good relationship with a student’s parents or perceives that those parents are positively engaged in their child’s education, that teacher may be more likely to give extra attention or go the extra mile for that student. If the same teacher perceives another child’s parents to be uninvolved or to have a negative influence on the child’s education, it likely will affect how the teacher interacts with both the child and the parent.”
In this new study, Herman and his research team assigned around 100 teachers to a professional development program, which was designed to help teachers build strong relationships between their students and parents. Part of their involvement in the program required teachers to fill out a survey about their students and parents both at the beginning and at the end of the school year. Questions asked in the survey covered topics such as the quantity and quality of their student-teacher and parent-teacher relationships, their perception of parental involvement in each student’s education, and a rating of student academic performance.
The children of parents that were identified as highly involved did better academically and were better behaved in the classroom.
“Negative perceptions often bring out negative behaviors. We also know, from this and prior studies, that teachers are more likely to report less comfort and alignment with parents whose children have academic and social problems, and parents from low-income and/or from racial or ethnic minority groups. In other words, often the families and students who need the most positive attention and support to re-engage them in education, are often the ones who are viewed the least favorably,” said Herman.
With previous research showing that parental involvement is always vital for student success, Herman and his research team suggest that educational programs should be put in place to allow teachers to learn about the importance of parent-teacher relationships, and to supply them with tools which allow them to enhance these relationships.