Enhancing engagement between parents and teachers: How parent interactions impact teacher wellbeing and feasibility testing of professional support for teachers.

Year: 2019

Author: Kirby, Grace

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Teachers are fundamental to engaging parents in their child’s education and yet Australian research indicates that teachers believe skills related to working with parents are one of their greatest professional development needs. Research consistently shows that when parents and schools work together as partners in education, there are numerous positive academic and wellbeing outcomes for children across different ethnicities and socio-economic status. Additionally, initial evidence suggests that teachers who develop positive relationships with parents demonstrate increased occupational wellbeing outcomes such as increased job satisfaction and self-efficacy for teaching, reduced occupational stress and burnout and a decreased likelihood of leaving the teaching profession.

To better understand teachers’ perspectives on their interactions with parents, over 600 teachers were surveyed from a diverse range of schools in Queensland, Australia. The survey findings were used to develop an intervention, The Alliance of Parents and Teachers (APT) workshop. This research has involved end-user engagement in both the development and evaluation stages to enhance program acceptability and ensure the intervention is specific to the needs of a diverse range of teachers.

This presentation will highlight some key findings of the survey and detail the outcomes of feasibility testing of the APT workshop. Survey findings related to the impact of parent interactions on teachers’ occupational wellbeing and the need for professional support for all teachers will be discussed. This will be followed by an overview of the strategies to build positive relationships with a diverse group of parents and manage negative impacts associated with parent interactions contained in the APT workshop. Finally, outcomes of the initial workshop evaluation will be presented.

To test the acceptability of the APT workshop, 10 teachers participated in a feasibility trial. Based on participant feedback, workshop content and structure were slightly modified prior to piloting. A non-randomised pilot study was then conducted with an additional 15 teachers from various schools. Pilot data were collected at pre-intervention, one-month post-intervention, and at an eight-month follow-up.

Pilot participants found the intervention beneficial and self-rated skills for interacting with parents significantly increased following participation in the APT workshop. The research findings suggest the APT workshop has the potential to improve teachers’ confidence and competence for working with parents regardless of their school’s social, economic or cultural background. Further trialling of this new intervention on a larger scale is warranted and recommendations for future research and dissemination will be discussed.