7 Tips for Better Parent-Teacher Communication
Positive, open communication with parents can make or break the school year for both teachers and the students they serve. Whether you teach preschool, seniors, or anywhere in between, it’s important to recognize that parents are just as invested in your students’ academic successes as you are. Once you create a solid partnership with them, you’ll see the positive net impact it has on your entire classroom.
To get started, it’s best to remember that everyone has different communication styles and there are many creative ways for teachers to communicate with parents outside of just a phone call home.
Here are seven ways to encourage two-way communication between you and your students/parents this school year:
Send a Letter of Introduction
A nice welcome letter to parents from teachers is an easy thing to add to your beginning-of-the-year routine. It’s a simple means of professional communication that shows parents who you are as a person, that you care about communicating directly with them, and what it is that they can expect from you during the school year. It’s also a great opportunity to survey parents on ways of communication that work best for them and to collect their current contact information. Not sure what to say? Search for a sample letter to parents from teachers online and use it as a guide. The Typing.com take-home letter for parents makes it simple to get permission from parents for your students to create and manage their account.
Make Positive Calls a Habit
No one likes to get the dreaded phone call home when their child is misbehaving. Making positive calls a habit will let parents know the many positive things their child is doing in class instead of just waiting for something negative to happen. From sharing a high test score to praising them for being a good friend to others, there’s no limit to the nice things you can say about your students to show that you care.
Keep a Parent Contact Log
With so many contacts made back and forth throughout the school year, it’s easy to lose track of who you’re communicating with regularly and what it is that you’ve been discussing. By keeping a parent contact log, you can be sure to touch base with all of the families you serve and have a reminder of what issues have and have not been addressed. Plus, this documentation can be submitted to your district during your review to show your administrators just how often you communicate with parents.
Schedule Parent-Teacher Meetings
In-person meetings don’t have to be limited to once or twice a year. Some parents just prefer a face-to-face meeting to get their questions answered, make sure their child’s individual needs are being met, and establish a behavior plan as issues come up. Whenever that’s the case, doing your best to schedule a face-to-face meeting with parents will go a long way towards building rapport with that particular family. And once you build that rapport, it’s a lot more likely you’ll receive the family’s support throughout the year.
Use a Parent Communication App
Technology advancements have made communication with parents easier than ever before. Consider using an app for all of your classroom announcements so that you save yourself time and hassle. Instead of writing an email, having to blind carbon copy all the recipients, and then having to check back later to see if you received any responses, parents can download the app, get a notification on their phone, receive the updates instantly, and respond to you directly inside the app. It’s a much simpler process for everyone involved.
Holding regular student-teacher conferences during class is another simple way to communicate effectively with families. Simply by setting a few moments aside each day or a block of time every week, you can meet with students individually, update them on their progress, have them set their own personal learning goals, and then require them to share the information with their families and obtain a signature. This process ensures that both students and parents receive regular updates on their grades in your class and that each student takes responsibility for their own education. Plus, it eliminates any surprises when it’s time for report cards to come out.
A parent-teacher conference is an excellent opportunity to meet with parents in person, discuss how their child is doing in your class, get a better understanding of your student’s home life and what personal challenges they’re currently facing, make a plan moving forward, and answer any questions the parents may have. But it’s often the case that the same parents who regularly reach out to you are the same parents who show up to parent-teacher conferences. To garner more support, be proactive and encourage parents to attend ahead of time. Then, reach out to the parents who don’t make it within a few days after the scheduled conferences.
One of the many reasons why positive parent-teacher relationships are vital is because it shows your students that you’re all in this together and that you’re a united front. Students who know their parents are not going to communicate with their teachers are far more likely to misbehave in class and slack off on assignments. And often, it’s these students who struggle to learn the most. So, they need whatever encouragement they can get.
The benefits of parent-teacher relationships are many, but perhaps the most crucial one is that it shows the entire family that you care about their child enough to do whatever it takes for them to succeed in your class.
For teachers dealing with difficult parents, having multiple positive communications can eventually turn a difficult parent into an ally, which is why it’s critical to avoid any negative or passive-aggressive communication.
Teachers’ communication skills are part of the profession so be sure to practice your written and oral communication skills with both your students and their parents over time. At the end of the day, both you and the parents are working together in the pursuit of a common goal: a healthy, happy, and successful child!
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