We’ve connected with Zoe Anderson at Study Select to get her views and tips on teacher – parent communication from the teachers’ perspective.
If you’re a teacher, you love your students. You might not always like them, but you honestly care about the kids who come into your classroom every day. Those students look up to you and are learning more from you than math, grammar, and history. The student-teacher relationship has its ups and downs, but it is definitely one of the biggest rewards in a teaching career.
There’s another relationship that plays a major role in a teacher’s career—the parent-teacher relationship. But while you see your students almost every day throughout the school year, you might only know their parents through a handful of interactions, so you need to make the most of them. Here are a few tips to help keep those lines of communication open.
1. Set the tone of your relationship right from the start
Whether it’s a parent-teacher conference, an open house, or a quick meeting as a parent picks up their child after school, first impressions count. Set the tone for a strong, communicative relationship early by being friendly and approachable whenever you meet a parent for the first time.
2. Establish each parent’s preferred method of communication
Some people like e-mails, while others might prefer a phone call. If you reach out to parents in the method that they prefer, they’ll appreciate your consideration and respond more quickly, more often, and more thoughtfully. Many people prefer texting to calling today, so you might find connecting with parents quicker and easier than you imagine.
3. Be consistent in tone and frequency of your communications
Maybe you send home a monthly newsletter, write a personal note every semester, or schedule office hours every other Friday. However you choose to stay in touch with your students’ families, make sure you’re consistent. Parents appreciate knowing the best way to reach out to you, and they also enjoy the updates you send home with their children.
4. Have a classroom newsletter
Sure, it might seem outdated, but one-page newsletters are a great way to both solidify your lesson plans for the upcoming month and let parents know what their children will be focusing on. It can definitely be discouraging when you spend a hours putting together the newsletter and hear nothing back from parents, but you should know that most of the time you’d find that same newsletter on the family refrigerator. It will also give you something to look back on next year and help you remember which lessons and activities were hits, and which were misses.
5. Be honest about a student’s strengths and weaknesses
Parents love to talk about their kids. They believe in their children and are completely invested in helping their kids grow and learn. They know that their view of their child is biased, and they respect your opinion. They want to know what their child’s strength are, and where their child might need a little extra help. By giving a parent an honest viewpoint of their child’s strengths and weaknesses, you’re showing you care, that you’re also invested, and that you’re a team when it comes to that child’s education. Because you spend so much time with children, your opinion will likely be held in higher regard and be much appreciated.
6. Utilize technology
Setting up a Facebook page or Twitter account for your classroom is a quick and easy way to share classroom news. Just make sure that parents are okay with their child’s picture being shared on social media before posting anything. You can also tap into Pinterest to share ideas for classroom activities and allow parents to pin their own suggestions as well. This creates a more interactive communication and lets you share tips and ideas for continuing the learning at home.
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