School-home notes: A qualitative field study of the perceptions and practices of elementary and middle school teachers

Date of Completion

January 2007


Education, Elementary|Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Secondary




Students with classroom behavioral problems forfeit valuable academic engagement time and are at risk for academic failure. As a school-based behavioral intervention, the school-home note (SHN) has been used to decrease problem behaviors such as classroom disruptions, physical and verbal aggression, social, and academic problems. Because little research has been done to explore actual usage by teachers, the purpose of this study was to compare the actual practice of SHNs to the research literature. In this qualitative study, teachers were interviewed and transcripts were analyzed using the comparative case study method. Findings of the study fell into three broad categories: confirmation of the research literature, expanded SHN usage, and the teachers' perception of the impact of parental support on SHN success. First, SHN practice as well as the actual SHNs replicated findings in the research literature. Teachers found the SHN to be an acceptable tool for communication to parents as well as a tool for behavioral intervention, and they voluntarily implemented the SHN without formal training. In addition many teachers designed their own SHNs to address the needs of the students. Second, the SHNs' usage was expanded to address a greater variety of problem behaviors, to communicate progress of regular education students as well as special education students and to communicate progress of entire classes of students from the beginning of the school year regardless of academic level or social or behavioral problems of the students. Finally, because of the SHNs' communicative nature, it engaged parents in the educational process, which helped to develop and solidify parental support that the teachers believed was essential for SHN success. Potential implications for practice include: consideration of situations and parental variables that contra-indicate the use of SHNs, the importance of clear classroom expectations, and the possible future use of whole class SHNs as a whole class intervention to shape the behavior of all students including students with special needs.^