Start the year off right by establishing solid communication with parents. Proactive communication is your best answer to future issues that pop up with students. Establishing a solid relationship with parents lets students know everyone is on their side. We’ll break down the details of establishing parent-teacher communication at the beginning of the year.
Let’s face it, everyone benefits from good parent-teacher communication. Here are how all stakeholders benefit from effective communication.
For students, effective communication creates a positive feedback loop. They begin to hear the same messages at home and school. This affirms the message and reinforces the idea that parents and teachers are on their team. So when you give constructive feedback, students view it as positive. Fostering a positive growth mindset in a child is essential for a positive year.
Parents are not always in the know. They hear what students say at home, but there is a disconnect. By involving parents, you are taking hold of the narrative. You’re providing valuable information that helps reaffirm the lessons you are teaching. Communication with parents makes them feel valued. When parents feel valued, they will work with you.
Teachers benefit as much as students from parent-teacher communication. You can gain valuable cooperation from both students and parents. You are getting reinforcement on complex concepts and behavior issues at home that will pay off each day in the classroom. You are also creating a team with students and parents that is one of the most productive assets in the classroom. Communication with parents will help you focus on teaching.
A first impression is everything. The best time to establish communication with parents is at the beginning of the year. No one wants to hear from their teacher only in the bad times. That creates an environment where the teacher is seen as a discipliner. This is not effective for developing a growth mindset.
Instead, establish the norm that you communicate the good and not-so-good. You will build trust with parents and students. They will view you as a teacher with their best interest at heart.
Distance education is part of the new normal. Virtual learning is here to stay whether your students are doing it full-time or in the event of a temporary learning obstacle.
Your most significant obstacle to parent-teacher communication during distance learning will be reaching students and parents when you are not physically near them. But this means that it’s even more important to put the work into communicating with them.
In some districts, that’s easier said than done. 88% of 8th-grade students have access to the internet. So do your homework on your families and their access to the internet before formulating parent-teacher communication during distance learning.
Using distance learning tools is the new norm in all classrooms. Here are our tips for using distance learning tools to communicate with parents.
You have to teach others how to communicate with you. Explain the best ways to reach you if you have an online tool you prefer for communication, and teach parents how to use it. This also helps with setting appropriate boundaries. If you prefer all communication through email, tell your parents this.
As you tell your parents how to communicate with you, remember it may not always go this way. Stay flexible, and remember all communication can be constructive. Try redirecting parents to the appropriate communication channel, so everyone gets on the right page. Remember that parents are juggling the communications of many different teachers, and everyone has different preferences.
The best and worst part of technology is that you are now so easy to reach. Make sure you establish times for communication, and also state when communication will not happen. A good example is to have digital office hours. These are hours when you will communicate, and then you also have explicit times that you do not communicate with your parents (like nights and weekends!).
Some parents don’t always have a reason to initiate contact, but getting in touch with them can still be beneficial. A survey can do wonders to communicate with parents you might not always talk to all of the time. Be sure to include multiple choice and text boxes. Google Forms is a great way to conduct a survey. Then you can have some talking points for future parent communication.
Send emails regularly. Don’t send emails only for negative reasons, and know that positive emails go further than negative ones. You can also send digital class newsletters to update parents about what is happening in class.
Not all parents can make it to Open House or parent-teacher conferences. That’s ok. Use digital conferencing tools like Zoom to make face-to-face communication happen anyway. The beauty of tech tools is that communication is so much more flexible.
One of the essential ways to improve parent-teacher communication is to keep an updated grade book. Easier said than done, right? Use tools to create online assignments and worksheets that can be auto-graded.