The adult that children see most often, besides their parents, is their teacher. Therefore, the partnership between the teacher and the parent needs to be one of positive interaction and open communication. All students, especially the ones who have difficulties in the classroom, need both the parent and teacher to work together to handle situations that arise. Here are some ways to establish a parent/teacher rapport and set up systems of communication.
There are many techniques teachers use to communicate with parents, including talking to them before and after school, calling them, e-mailing them, or setting up a meeting. It's important to figure out which way works best with each family. Some people are obsessive e-mailers, but don't answer the phone. Others prefer face to face communication. In any case, make sure that you keep track of parent communication. It can help you monitor student progress, and give you a way to figure out if you haven't communicated with a parent or parents in a while.
An easy way to communicate with all parents at once is to create an e-mail list serve, like a Google Group, or a classroom blog. In this way all parents get the same message about homework, a special event, a project, etc . . . If there is a topic you would like to discuss with parents, like a classroom respect issue, you can send out a class-wide e-mail. You can also e-mail an individual parent or parents to let them know about the positive things their child has done, or the problems they are facing. There is nothing a parent likes more than receiving an e-mail saying that their child wrote a terrific essay, was chosen for a particular part in a play, or was able to solve a difficult math problem.
Don't forget to keep communication positive, even when there is a problem. For instance, instead of saying to a parent “Your child is disruptive. She yells out, and talks when she should be listening,” you could say “I've been concerned about Jenny's focus during lessons, and would like to help her to participate in an appropriate manner." If you show that you care, and pose the issue in a more positive way, the parents should be more willing to listen to what you are saying, instead of being defensive. Then you can work together to come up with a solution. This is a great way for you to create positive energy between you and parents.
Some students also may need to have behavior plans for home and school. Teachers can work with parents to create a plan, and discuss how it will be implemented in school and at home. When you partner with a parent, you have a better way to meet the needs of the child, and hold them accountable for their actions. You can have a conference with parents, and present a few behavior management ideas and see which one they think would work best in their home, and you can tell them which works best in your class. When parents and teachers work together to create a positive learning environment, students have no choice but to succeed! Here are some more communication ideas.
This lesson teaches students what communication is. By using this lesson as a springboard, you can lead students on an exploration of how important communication is between them and their parents, their parents and their teacher, and them and the teacher. You can emphasize how important it is for them to share what they are thinking and feeling.
This lesson teaches students how to e-mail. Students can discuss the fact that they can e-mail you from home. You can talk about the issues or questions you would like them to feel comfortable e-mailing you about.
Students learn how to speak and listen kindly to others. This is a strategy that will help them as adults. They can practice how to communicate their needs and feelings with adults, including their teacher and their parents.
This worksheet shows students different ways to communicate. They write advantages and disadvantages for each, and learn how to effectively communicate with others.