Communicating with Parents
Most parents and teachers understand the value in having a strong relationship with each other. Studies show that on-going communication between parents and teacher is a key factor in student success. With the help of technology, keeping parents informed is not as hard as you might think. Here are some strategies that can help improve communication between teachers, parents, and students.
- Don’t wait for parent-teacher conferences to start the relationship.
- Before school starts reach out to parents by sending a postcard welcoming students, introducing yourself, your classroom rules, expectations and goals.
- Send home a questionnaire asking parents to describe their child and list their goals. Surveys can be adjusted and sent several times throughout the year to monitor parent’s feedback.
Use technology to go green
- Design a class website to include information about your class. List homework assignments, important dates, upcoming tests, activities, projects, assemblies, book fairs, class trips, helpful links, useful tips, etc.
- Alert parents to the fact that this information will be listed on the page and that it will be updated weekly. If they aren’t sure how to access the information, hold a mini-workshop introducing parents to the web.
- A picture is worth a thousand words! Take photos of your students in action. Photograph or use a video camera to record the moments when your students are working in cooperative learning groups, presenting projects or engaging in discussions. Be sure to follow district policies regarding privacy and photography procedures.
- Use email to stay in touch with parents. During back to school night, collect parent email addresses to establish another method of communication. Email can also be used to send home time-sensitive information.
- Showcase your students’ technology skills by having them design a class newsletter that can be emailed to parents. Not only is this a way to keep parents informed about what their child is learning, they will be able to see a sophisticated product created by their children.
Accentuate the positive
- Every parent (and student) loves to hear something positive about their child. A positive phone call or email will go a long way to create a bond between the parent and teacher – especially if a not-so-positive phone call comes at a later date.
- Send home “Good News” cards as often as possible. These cards are available for free for NJEA members. See how to order NJEA Classroom Materials. Fill out the PDF and either email or fax it to the contact person. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery of materials.
- If you are doing something noteworthy, be sure to invite the media. Develop local media contacts you can reach out to when you want to publicize your students’ excellent work. In addition, most high schools now have their own video production classes. Consider inviting those students to film projects or events in your classroom. If you don’t promote the excellence going on in your classroom, no one else will either.
Include parents and the community whenever possible
- Don’t be afraid to invite parents and important community members into your classroom. Make a list of parents who would be willing to come in and share a lesson, read a story, act out a part, talk about their career, or more. Consider organizing a Teacher for a Day program at your school. This program brings parents, community leaders, reporters, and others to experience what a real day in the life of a teacher is like.
As educators we know that strong communication skills are critical to our profession. The more we can inform parents and the community of the good things that are going on in our school the more they will support our efforts to help ensure that every child meets his or her potential, inside and outside the classroom.