Inventory for Creating Parent-Teacher Connections

APPROACH – The framework for interaction with parents
To what extent are the following conditions present in my classroom?
1. Mutually shared goals across home and school for children’s reading and learning.
2. Belief that parental involvement in reading and language development activities is paramount.
3. Belief that working together as partners will benefit the child’s reading and learning‚ with mutually supported roles and actions to achieve this goal.
4. Recognition of the value of both in- and out-of-school learning opportunities for children’s reading‚ learning and school progress.
5. Recognition that the nature and quality of the parent-teacher relationship influences (positively or negatively) children’s reading and school performance.
6. Expectation that families will be involved in home support for reading‚ and recognition that such involvement can mean different things to different families.
7. Expectation that as the classroom teacher‚ I will seek ways to invite parents to share in the educational process for their children‚ recognizing that this may “look different” to different families.
8. Presence of a policy statement that promotes the importance and expectation of parent-teacher connections for children’s reading and learning success.
ATTITUDES – The values and perceptions held about parent-teacher relationships
To what extent are the following conditions present in my classroom?
1. Attempts to understand the needs‚ ideas‚ opinions‚ and perspectives of parents.
2. A nonblaming‚ no-fault problem-solving stance in interactions with parents.
3. Willingness to share perspectives and observations across home and school.
4. Perception of parent involvement as essential (i.e.‚ bringing a critical element to my work that is otherwise unavailable) rather than simply desirable.
5. A positive attitude that focuses on teacher‚ parent‚ and child strengths‚ rather than only on problems or deficits.
6. Willingness to co-construct the whole picture about the child by discussing‚ exploring‚ and understanding different perspectives.
7. Willingness to listen to and respond to concerns across home and school—viewing different perspectives as a way to better understand the student’s needs‚ and viewing parents’ and teacher’s concerns as a way to offer mutual support.
8. Mutual respect between parent and teacher.
9. Understanding that barriers for positive parent-teacher relationships (i.e.‚ constraints of each system) exist for both parties.
ATMOSPHERE – The climate for parent-teacher interactions
To what extent are the following conditions present in my classroom?
1. Recognition of the value‚ and active solicitation‚ of family input regarding important decisions about their child.
2. Use of parent and teacher input to promote positive outcomes for students.
3. A welcoming‚ respectful‚ inclusive‚ positive‚ supportive climate and atmosphere in the classroom for all children and families.
4. A variety of communication strategies to reach all parents in a manner that is sensitive or responsive to family background (e.g.‚ language‚ skills‚ knowledge level)‚ easy to understand‚ and “jargon-free.”
5. A variety of communication strategies to share information and/or monitor children’s performance.
6. Parental and teacher trust in each other (including motives‚ objectives‚ and communications).
7. Mechanisms for listening to and responding to concerns across home and school.
8. Meaningful ways and flexible options for parents and students to be involved.
9. Opportunities for parents and teachers to learn from one another (e.g.‚ cross-cultural communication opportunities).
ACTIONS – Strategies for building shared responsibility
To what extent are the following conditions present in my classroom?
1. Information is provided to families about classroom policies and practices‚ parents’ and students’ rights vis-à-vis education‚ and ways to foster students’ engagement with reading.
2. Opportunities or mechanisms are provided for the parent and teacher to plan jointly and collaborate to resolve a shared concern or to improve reading and learning experiences for the student.
3. A process exists for creating mutually supportive roles for parents and teachers.
4. Supports and resources exist for creating and maintaining parent-teacher partnerships.
5. Policies and practices support a coordinated‚ collaborative approach (i.e.‚ shared responsibility) for enhancing students’ reading progress.
6. Parents and teachers (i.e.‚ partners) routinely review the availability‚ accessibility‚ and flexibility of parent-teacher roles and responsibilities for fostering children’s reading and school engagement.
approach‚ attitudes‚ atmosphere‚ and actions
1: Not at all/never‚ 2: In some situations/infrequently‚ 3: Variable/sometimes but not usually‚ 4: In most situations/usually‚ 5. Completely/always

Adams‚ K.S.‚ & Christenson‚ S.L. (1998). Differences in parent and teacher trust levels: Implications for creating collaborative family-school relationships. Special Services in the Schools‚ 14(1/2)‚ 1-22.

Adams‚ K.‚ & Christenson‚ S.L. (2000) Trust and the family-school relationship: Examination of parent-teacher differences in elementary and secondary grades. Journal of School Psychology.

Christenson‚ S.L. (1995). Supporting home-school collaboration. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.)‚ Best practices in school psychology III (pp. 253-267). Washington‚ DC: National Association of School Psychologists.


Christenson‚ S.L. (2001). Promoting engagement with school and learning: A resource for Check & Connect mentors to enhance student success. Early Risers “Skills for Success” Project‚ University of Minnesota ‚ Pillsbury United Communities‚ and Minneapolis Public schools.

Christenson‚ S.L. & Hirsch‚ J. (1998). Facilitating partnerships and conflict resolution between families and schools. In K.C. Stoiber & T. Kratochwill (Eds.)‚ Handbook of group interventions for children and families (pp. 307-344). Boston:  Allyn & Bacon.

Christenson‚ S. L. & Peterson‚ C. J. (1998). Family‚ school‚ and community influences on children’s learning: A literature review (Report No. 1). All Parents Are Teachers Project (Formerly Live and Learn Project). Minneapolis‚ MN: University of Minnesota Extension Service.

Christenson‚ S. L.‚ & Sheridan‚ S. M. (2001). School and families: Creating essential connections for learning. NY: Guilford Press.

Christenson‚ S.L.‚ Hurley‚ C.M.‚ Sheridan‚ S.M.‚ & Fenstermacher‚ K. (1997). Parents’ and school psychologists’ perspectives on parent involvement activities. School Psychology Review‚ 26(1)‚ 111-130.

Zorka‚ H.‚ Godber‚ Y.‚ Hurley‚ C.M.‚ & Christenson‚ S.L. (2001). Parental Perspectives of Welcoming School Environments. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association‚ San Francisco.

Parent-Teacher Partnerships: Creating Essential Connections for Children’s Reading and Learning By Sandy Christenson‚ University of Minnesota.