Establishing and maintaining effective parent-teacher communications is an important part of being a successful teacher. An excellent way to strengthen your connection with a student is through their parents.
Parents know the child best, so they can be a beneficial resource for you as a teacher, making it necessary to maintain a strong teacher-parent relationship. Take a few minutes to evaluate the tools you use to establish and sustain the communications that serve as the basis for building a stable, open relationship with parents.
Here are some guidelines to help you build the connection right from the start of the school year.
During orientation (or the first week of school), send home a parent survey that asks about the student’s likes and dislikes and invites the parent(s) to voice their concerns and identify goals for the year. This information will provide you with valuable information to establish the relationships between students and feedback from parents, ultimately helping you start to form goals for the first semester.
Use a survey a few weeks into the school year to obtain feedback from the parent(s) about how each student is adjusting to their new class and, of course, if there are any areas of concern.
Ask your students’ parents how they would prefer that you stay in touch — through notes home, e-mail, or telephone — and then use those methods to communicate with them about their child’s status and progress.
No matter which method you use, don’t focus your communications simply on areas or issues where the child needs improvement; discuss the areas where they are thriving or performing well. If parents feel you are always pointing out the negative, they will be less inclined to collaborate with you to solve these issues. Let parents know when their child has made a great achievement and when they have shown improvement.
Emphasize from the beginning your classroom is open to parents, and invite them to volunteer to help out in class or special learning centers or school functions if this is acceptable to the school or school district.
Send home a newsletter every week (or as often as is feasible) that discusses current units of study and any reminders concerning upcoming field trips, special class events, or lists of supplies needed. Include tips for parents on helping their children in math, reading, and writing. If it is age-appropriate, allow students to get involved in writing the newsletter, which would enable them to improve writing and editing skills.
Effectively communicate with parents or guardians each week by sending home graded work and comments on classwork, behavior, and any other concerns in a folder or planner with reserved space for parents to write back.
Folders could be signed and returned on a designated day of the week. This process will encourage parents to communicate with you.
As you discuss this important issue with the prospective school district representative, be sure to voice your understanding of the need to create and strengthen teacher-parent communications and classroom management. This will demonstrate your commitment to teaching and working collaboratively with your students’ parents to fuel students’ academic and social growth and success throughout the school year.