“Thank you for asking”: Exploring parent /teacher communications in a first grade classroom

Barbara Ryan Larkin, University of Pennsylvania


My research examined parent/teacher communication in a first grade classroom and explored ways it might inform literacy teaching/learning. During a seven month period, I systematically documented communication between eleven participating parents (ten mothers, one father) in my first grade classroom to learn the potential of this ongoing communication between parents and teachers. The traditions and literature in the field of teacher research have been at the core of this practitioner inquiry. My research has been guided by a broadened definition of literacy as social, described within the New Literacy Studies, and by family literacy studies and research on home school connections. These specific questions framed my research: What are the various communications that occur between parents and myself as teacher? How do they inform the teaching/learning of literacy in my classroom? What conceptions of literacy do parents and I communicate to each other? Data collection focused on the different types of communication between parents and teacher and included letters, phone calls, email, notes, and drop-in classroom conversations about a child specifically related to literacy development. Data also came directly from casual parent/teacher conversations at school events, parent/teacher conferences, my journal notes, anecdotal student records, two informal interviews and analysis of a survey given to parents about their child's literacy learning at home. I used a reflective journal, analytical memos and a peer debriefing group of several other doctoral students to triangulate my data. I coded and organized the data using the grounded theory methods and techniques of Strauss and Corbin to discover patterns of communication topics. This research looked closely at common methods of parent/teacher communication and documented different perspectives and ways to create a spirit of collaboration. These often encompassed other support systems. This teacher research conducted in a first grade classroom has the potential to further teacher education efforts by presenting a thick description of home and school communication and suggesting specific teacher actions and common parent/teacher topics that might enhance the teaching and the literacy learning of children.

Subject Area

Elementary education

Recommended Citation

Larkin, Barbara Ryan, "“Thank you for asking”: Exploring parent /teacher communications in a first grade classroom" (2003). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3084868.