Promoting positive parent-teacher communication
Monday, September 08, 2014
Ask teachers what they wish they had more time to dedicate to in their job, and better communication with parents will almost always be at the top of their list.
The reality is that teachers want parents to be informed. But once the school year gets going, parent communication often takes a back seat. Teachers quickly fall into the habit of calling home only when they have bad news to report, and that makes for an unhealthy relationship between parents and teachers.
Teachers, this fall I urge you to make a new school year's resolution to improve your communication with parents. The web is bursting with tips and strategies to do this without compromising the precious time you have to get your job done.
Recently, the Daily Genius offered "8 steps to great parent-teacher communication." Their advice for teachers included establishing a relationship with parents of trust by trying to find common ground with parents and asking for their opinions on the best way to motivate and engage their child. They recommended that teachers focus on positive news, not just negative news.
They also recommended that teachers involve students in the communication whenever possible, and encouraged teachers to consider using technology like Skype or Livestream for parents who can't make it in for a face-to-face conference. Most importantly, they insisted that teachers look for ways to get parents involved in the activities of the classroom, whenever possible.
What is the best way to communicate with parents? Should you call them? Should you email them? Should you connect with them through social media? Common Sense Graphite's Jeff Knutson recently posted an article describing "6 tech tools that boost teacher-parent communication."
Custom teacher websites can be created easily with programs like Weebly or Google Sites. A class blog can maintained with sites like Blogger, WordPress or Edublogs. To keep it simple, teachers can use social media sites like Twitter for daily classroom updates.
Class Dojo's Angela Kiser thinks it is time to drop email and start instant messaging with parents. In her recent blog post, Kiser explains how she makes use of a variety of communication tools early in the year, but it is the instant messaging feature of programs like ClassDojo that have gotten her hooked on sustaining regular communication with parents throughout the school year.
In the blog Teachers With Apps, teachers Drew Minock and Brad Waid talk about Three Ring, an app that allows users to create and securely share digital student portfolios. They wrote, "Three Ring is great tool that allows parents to have a glimpse into their child's classroom without physically being there. Parents are able to initiate learning conversations with their child when they return home from school because they are able to see the activities and assignments that we update in real time throughout the day."
A wise friend once told me that the absence of communication forces people to draw their own conclusions. Don't let your parents guess what is happening in their children's classrooms. Find ways to embed regular communication home into your daily planning.
Parents will appreciate your willingness to share with them what is happening in their children's lives, and you will find that your patience will be rewarded later in the year.
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