Mr. Vasquez, Teacher, Math Urban Science Academy March 6, 2016

Effective family engagement: Mr. Vasquez’s Story

Mr. Vasquez, Teacher, Math Urban Science Academy March 6, 2016

I moved to the United States 22 years ago from the Dominican Republic. As soon as I arrived from the States I became a substitute teacher. After 6 months I became a certified teacher. I teach math and science, and my background is in chemical engineering.

Most of the issues we had was absence of the students, that’s been my major concern. For some reason my students like to be on time to my classes, because they believe it’s fun– I try to use strategies like computer, visual aides, and I try to make the class funny and interesting, and also very interactive.

Last year (before Kinvolved) we just used attendance from the school, the SPATs, this year has been a little different, because we have a “traveling attendance,” but sometimes it was lost, some information was not matching. With Kinvolved the interesting thing is that, even though the students aren’t here, now you know why they aren’t here and you can send a message quickly to the parents, you can say “he is not here but, he has this homework for tomorrow.” And now it’s online, so the student can go through the forms or do the homework even though they are not present. This system has helped me a lot.

First of all, the strategy I use (with Kinvolved) is that I open my laptop and the students know already that I am in communication with their parents. And the best part — one little story– one day there was a student, he was a little active, acting out. And he wouldn’t stop. So I told him I would get his mom to come over here if he didn’t’ stop. Believe it or not, I messaged his mother, “can you please come over here?” She said, “I’ll be there in ten minutes.” When the mother walked in and said “What happened Mr. Vasquez?” everyone goes “Oooooo”. That child, that day, he changed.

I approach (messaging parents) very politely– I have kids, and you don’t want to always hear bad things about your children, even if they misbehave. Mr. Akeli always suggests to us, that when you send information to a parent, first of all send the good things, and then present the bad things. Try to be very polite. For example, because of Kinvolved I noticed that three of my students are more open, behave better, because they know that I’m in touch with the parents! One girl was not doing well, and then I noticed that her behavior had improved and then I sent some good news to the parents, saying “thank you for your support, because your daughter is doing much better, she’s more able to help others and cooperate.” I try to be fair as much as I can.

Kinvolved is a very strong tool to get in touch with the parents right away. It has made my life easier. I’m more in control. And the parents see that I’m worried about the children, they’re happier. It’s more personal. The parents like it, they are very receptive, very open.

Mr. Kelly also tells us to go in person and talk to the students, ask them why they were absent. Now we have another approach to go in person and say “what happened? We missed you!” Not just using Kinvolved, but also going to the students and asking if everything’s fine. And when students see that you are worried about them they are more motivated to come. The student feels that we care about them. For me, in my 20 years, Kinvolved is making everything so easy. In my earliest years of teaching, the lack of communication– *laughs*. As soon as a student knows you are in contact with the parents their behavior, everything changes.