We know that communication is key when building a relationship with parents. Whether you are a veteran teacher or this is your rookie year, these tips for parent communication will help you stay on track to building that relationship that will allow your student to grow and learn.
Scenario time! It’s the middle of the school year and Johnny is failing math class. Your principal comes in and asks if you have talked to his parents. You say yes and he asks, “Did you document for proof?”
According to the dictionary, communication is the “means of connection between people.” Communication in the world of education can be a game changer especially when teachers and parents have strong communication.Communication in the world of education can be a game changer especially when teachers and parents have strong communication. Click To Tweet
Parent communication can help you understand a child’s home life; it can give the teacher insight into how the student acts at home; most importantly, it can help a student succeed in your classroom.
To begin, let’s talk about how to effectively keep track of parent teacher communication. It’s important to always keep track of which parents you have called, so having an organizational plan for documenting parent teacher communication is the first step to success.
Tips to Keep Track of Parent-Teacher Communication
Log It Out!
Create a parent communication log for yourself. This log should include a space for the date, a section for comments, and a column for the response. I think with a log you can go with one of two choices.
- Choice one: Have a parent-teacher communication log for each student and make a goal to call each parent a certain amount of times. The pro of this log is you can see how many times you have called each parent easily by simply looking at the particular student’s parent teacher communication log. The con to this is you have more paper to handle, but it would be simple to make this digital or to make this a simple folder you have in your desk drawer.
- Choice two: Create a parent-teacher log that you put all of your contacts on. With this one you would need to create a “Student Name” column as well. The pro to this type of parent teacher communication log is it is just one document or just one piece of paper to keep track of. The negative side is it’s not as organized and it would be easy to miss a student or favor a few over the others which is not really what you want. Whether students are good, bad, or in between you want to keep in contact with parents.
Creating a teacher log is an easy way to keep in contact with parents. To help you keep track of your parent communication, I have made you this simple log you can keep in each student’s file.
A great way to keep track of parent communication is to file it somewhere. Even if filing it means writing the date and quick note on a notecard that you have for each student, make sure you keep track of all parent-teacher communication. If you decide to make a parent-teacher communication log, make sure you have a place to file that information.
Effective Parent-Teacher Communication Strategies
Once you have a plan as to how to keep track of communication, you can start working on effective parent communication. So, what parent-teacher communication strategies can you use to ensure there is effective communication?
At the beginning of the year make sure you communicate your desire for strong parent communication, and make sure you include how you plan on communicating with them.
You can communicate with phone calls, text messages, or parent teacher communication app (which will be discussed in this blog). Whatever you choose to do or whatever combination of tools you choose to use, make sure the parents are aware.
In addition to telling parents how you plan to communicate with them, make sure you state what your expectations are for their students throughout the year.
In order to have open and effective parent communication, you need to make sure parents can trust you. Now, yes, trust takes time to build but make sure you state that you are someone who can be trusted. Assure them that you do not talk about their student to other teachers or other parents.
These may seem like “duh” comments, but it’s easy to talk in the hallway and have someone who doesn’t need to hear overhear. Assure parents that you are going to be mindful about where you talk and what you talk about.
You are the person who spends the most amount of time with their kids. Make sure parents know that you will always tell them first and immediately when you have a concern about their student. I would suggest that you have a specific way to communicate concerns. In my opinion, a phone call is usually best.
Another way to promote effective parent communication is to make sure you have an open door policy. Tell parents if they have any concerns they are always open to talk to you about them. These issues can be academic, home, or any other issue.
Give parents effective ways to get a hold of you and be honest with them. If you’re not great at checking your emails, don’t tell parents to email you. Making sure parents trust you and keeping the door open for communication is one of the best things you can do.
Parent-Teacher Communication Apps
Parent communication is key and you should communicate with parents early on and often especially if there is a problem. Because communication can be tough, and time consuming, there’s an app for that! If electronics are your jive, check out these parent teacher communication apps.
Classloom is a “free social media networking platform for helping parent-teacher communication be its best.” With this app, parents and teachers can share information. The app is adaptable so you can create groups when you need to.
Class Messenger: This is another great parent communication app to use to contact parents. Class Messenger works similarly to texting and can be “more private than most social networking platforms” according to their website. You can send out individual or group messages and it’s very simple.
ClassDojo: This parent communication app has been keeping parents and teachers connected since 2011. One of the most popular tools online for parent teacher communication, it is a classroom management domain that “helps teachers encourage specific classroom student behaviors using real-time feedback through Web and mobile.”
This parent communication app tells parents how their student is behaving and performing in the following categories: hard work, persistence, teamwork, creativity, curiosity, and more.
First, make sure you have a parent-teacher communication log or plan. Documenting the communication you have can be a life saver later, I promise.
There are several ways to communicate with parents but you need to make sure you open the door for respectful communication right away and keep the door open for frequent communication.
Finally, while phone calls are great they can be time consuming; find ways to communicate with parents often while not staying up 24 hours a day by using parent teacher communication apps. Communication is important but it can be trying, especially if things get heated.
Diffusing the Bomb (an angry parent)
Scenario time. You’ve opened the door, you’re organized, you’re the communication master. A parent comes in and is ready to blow; how do you diffuse the bomb?
Stay Calm: There’s no way that two hot heads in the room is going to help anything! Make sure you stay calm by taking some deep breaths. Get a stress ball in your room to squeeze for these trying times.
Listen: Often times when people are angry they just need someone to listen to what they are angry about. Let the parent vent before trying to give possible solutions.
Mediator: Get a mediator in the room, preferably an administrator. This will tell the parent you are taking him/her seriously (kudos to you) and you will be making sure nothing gets miscommunicated.
Acknowledge: Verbally acknowledge their concern and make sure you look into it for them. You don’t have to have a solution right away. Let them know after you look into it, you will get back to them. Give them and yourself a timeline for that.
Be Proactive: If you see a potential problem, diffuse the issue before it gets to a bomb about to explode. Read facial cues and body language in conferences or when you make a phone call. Don’t brush anything to side and maintain an open and calm line of communication.
Document: Pull out that parent communication log and use it! You need to make sure you document any and all parent teacher communication whether it’s amazing or ugly.
Parent communication is one of the hardest parts of being a teacher and there’s a lot that goes into making it effective. Make sure to use this parent teacher communication guide to make you and your parents master communicators.
Do you have a favorite way of communicating with your parents? Perhaps you have a favorite app that teachers need to know about. Leave a comment below and share your favorite tips, strategies, apps for having effective parent communication in your classroom.
Looking for more tips and strategies on building a positive classroom environment? Check out these articles below:
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Until next time Educational Rockstars,