One of the major downfalls for young teachers is poor parent-teacher communication. Too often we forget that parents can be some of the best allies we have in reaching our students, and that we all have a common goal. Early positive communication is the single most effective way I have found to avoid later conflicts down the road. In today’s article, Tess Pajaron tackles the issue of effective parent-teacher communication.
While it might be the kids that you see every day, parents are a huge deal when it comes to doing your job effectively. A parent can be an ally behind the scenes, supporting our work and encouraging their children to trust in us and take our lessons seriously.
Getting a parent on board requires good communication. Without that, developing the right relationship with them will be more challenging. In order to get your rapport onto the right foot, follow these 5 tips to effectively communicate with parents and gain their trust in educating their kids.
1. Let them know
The best way to get a parent on board is to let them know what your intentions are. Honestly and openly, declare that you would like to work with them in order to further the development of their child. Send a special introduction card at the beginning of the school year to establish that first point of contact.
Tell parents that their support is appreciated. If they do come up and support you, make sure that you remind them how grateful you are and what a difference it is making for their child when you talk at parent-teacher meetings or events.
2. Communicate often
Parents actually like hearing what their kids have been up to, believe it or not. Share with them regularly, even weekly if you can manage it, about how their child is learning and growing. That type of regular contact is really important – you can send out a weekly newsletter informing parents about what’s happening at your school and upcoming projects. You could even suggest ways for them to interact more – tell them to ask their child what they have learned about the solar system, for example, or to show them something they drew in class.
3. Translate everything
Sometimes you might find out that you don’t share a common language with the parents. Make sure to address that issue as soon as possible. Get a translator to come to parent conferences and try to reach out to parents who might experience problems in understanding you at other times as well. You should know how to pronounce their names, both first and last, to avoid coming across the wrong way or making them feel uncomfortable – it’s just about being open and polite.
4. Make positive calls
Most parents dread a phone call from the school – it means their child is in trouble. But what if a phone call could be something to look forward to? Call parents at regular times during the year to tell them how well their kids are doing. Always lead with the good news, even if you have some concerns that you want to share about the child afterwards.
5. Listen and ask
Parents know a lot about their own kids, and you can learn a lot from them. If a child in your class seems to be performing well but they think he is underperforming, they might be right. You can also learn a lot by asking questions about the child. Why not send out a feedback form every now and then? You’ll show parents that their opinion matters to you, and get plenty of valuable information to make your relationship even more rewarding.