Five Ways Teachers Can Establish Positive Relationships with Parents
It is back to school season and in the midst of lesson planning, juggling assignments and trying to learn everyone’s name, it is easy for teachers to forget that parents and families can be of tremendous support.
Here is an infographic along with some tips on how to foster relationships with the parents of your students.
You want your encounters with parents to be warm and gracious. Try sharing tidbits about yourself. Provide food at a back to school night. You can never go wrong with free food! You can also try fun icebreakers with parents. Have them share their favorite school memories or share what they would bring to a show and tell. Two Truths and a Lie is a popular icebreaker and a great way for you to get to know the parents and for parents to get to know each other.
Most parents want to know how their child is doing so it’s important to communicate often and through various channels. You could use the standard email or phone call. You could also use apps like Remind, a platform where teachers can schedule and send reminders, assignments or homework. Class Dojo is another great communication app that you can use to update parents on their child’s progress. Other tools you could use include Google+ or Slack. There are many more apps you could use in your classroom. It’s important to declare your intentions. Discuss goals each of you have for the child for the school year. Try providing weekly updates on what’s going on in the classroom. For many parents, a phone call about their child is their worst nightmare. A positive call home letting them know how well their child is doing would be greatly appreciated.
Learn from Parents
Just as parents can learn from teachers; teachers can learn from parents. Listen to parents when they’re talking about their child. They may give you insights about the child that you were unaware of. As children get older, parents are not often asked how they can contribute or don’t know what to do. Let parents know how they can help you. Provide ways they can help at home and in the classroom. Try getting to know what skills, passions, and interests a parent has. Invite them to share their knowledge with the class.
When parents come with questions, point them in the right direction where they can find help. If you share a concern, be prepared to suggest resources. Another thing you can do is create a resource. Create a website with basic information such contact information; policies, supplies needed, and expectations that you have for students and parents for a successful year. Great platforms for building websites include WordPress, Wix and Weebly. If families do not have internet access, prepare a pamphlet or a newsletter and distribute them to parents.
Explain Decisions and Invite Input
Take the time to explain any instructional or any other decisions regarding the child. Many parents may not understand certain aspects of the educational system (i.e. standardized testing, curriculum choices, proper protocols). Educating parents who are unfamiliar with the education system makes it easier for them to understand what you’re doing and why. Also, invite parents to have inputs in decision making. Give them the information needed to form an opinion and listen to their solutions. Two heads are better than one and the parent may have knowledge you’re unaware of or come up with a solution that you may not have thought of.
Remember that the parent and teacher relationship should be a partnership. When parents and teachers can successfully work together to ensure a child’s success. It’s a win-win situation for all involved!