Typically, when we talk about school we talk about the relationships that we should be building with the students. After all, a good relationship with our students can help create a better classroom environment overall. But there is one more relationship that is always good to plant and nurture. Parent teacher relationships are vital to success and you can help create good relationships with parents in parent teacher meetings.
I think parents get a bad rap during the school year at times. It is not unusual for teachers to “deal with” an angry parent, but there is a world where teachers and parents can work as a cohesive unit. A great place to begin this relationship is in a parent teacher meeting.
I find having a parent teacher meeting with each parent either by phone call or in person within the first two weeks of school is very effective. Here are five important parts to discuss in parent teacher meetings.
#1 Parent Party
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. A party? Yes, a party! No, I don’t want you to break out the wine (I mean unless you want to…but it might be risky), but I do want you to invite parents into your room. Having a “Parent Party” is so great for you, your students, and your parents. This is a very informal way to meet all of your parents.
At a parent party meeting, you have an opportunity to see which parent belongs with which student. You also have a chance to meet parents on a very informal level. Getting to know parents on this level and leaving a good first impression can make harder conversations easier in the long run.
The only thing you need to do to host a parent party is teach students about your room and get them excited about something they created. You may also want to bring in some snacks.
Then you can invite parents in and let students show their parents (or guardians) their classroom. Seeing their child’s excitement will make the parents feel more comfortable about the school year and give you a little gold star.
#2 Parent Input
Another important meeting to hold with your parents is by inviting them to give their input. This parent teacher meeting is perfect over the phone. While a phone call may seem impersonal, it is great for getting parent input.
You can make a phone call to get a parents input for several reasons. For example, you may want a parents input if you notice a student:
- Flying past the others in a certain subject. In this case, you might want to talk to parents about advanced placement opportunities.
- Struggling in a subject. This is especially important to call parents about. There might be something going on at home that a parent can shed some light on.
- Being bullied or not being an active part of the group. A parents’ input on this subject is especially important. Often times when kids are struggling socially they are afraid to say something to their parents. You reaching out shows you care and can create an open dialogue between a parent and his/her student.
Getting a parent’s input not only helps keep the parent in the loop, it helps keep you in the know as well. When parents are allowed to give you some input into what would be effective in any of the situations above, you go from being alone and guessing to a team with a potential plan to help the student excel further.
#3 Parent Purpose
A great way to get parents involved is by asking them to play some kind of a role in your classroom on a prescheduled day. Getting parents to help you with something is better if you ask in person. This parent teacher meeting can be done at the beginning of the year in an informal way or at conferences in a more formal way.
One of the best “uses” of parents is to get them involved in your classroom. When you get parents involved as class guests to read, help with a craft, or anything else it gives them a glimpse into your life. In addition to getting a glimpse into your day to day routine, they also get to see what their child does every day.
While some parents will be very excited to come in and be a part of, do not make this a requirement. Offer this option to all of your parents but do not make it mandatory or even a big deal. Some parents simply cannot take off work to come to class for a day whether it be policy reasons or financial reason. Being considerate of every parent is also very important when discussing anything.
#4 Parents in the Know
Making sure parents are “in the know” was discussed in Tip #2 but there are other things parents should be in “the know” about. Parents need to know what their student is excelling at and where they are struggling whether that is academic or social struggles.
In addition to being “in the know” about grades and friends, parents should also be in the know about different activities going on in the classroom. A great way to achieve these is through a quick simple meeting every month. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but these parent teacher meetings do not need to be phone calls or even in person. You can keep communication open by simply creating a monthly newsletter.
This monthly newsletter can go out via email to all parents. It is a good idea to make sure you have a good email address for all your parents before school starts. You can collect these at your Parent Party parent teacher meeting!
#5 Parent Ally
Finally, one of the best ways to use your parent teacher meetings is by recruiting parents as an ally. In order to recruit a parent as an ally, you need to be open and honest with the parent. Discuss what you plan on doing in the classroom, have a black and white behavior plan, and communicate all of this with your parents. If your parents are on your side, everything gets infinitely easier for you right away.
It will probably take more than one parent teacher meeting for your parents to become a strong ally, but through time and great communication it will happen!
Parent teacher communication is so important and all of the above ways are great to get to know parents on different levels. Remember whenever you are working with parents you want to keep things positive and focused on their child. If you both keep the same goal in mind, success is always within your reach.
What is your best tip for parent-teacher conferences? Share your best tip below and then share this article with your teacher bestie! Happy Teaching Educational Rockstars!