Parent-Teacher relationships are vital to the success of students. Start the year off right with these tips for creating good parent-teacher relationships.
Communicate with parents frequently. Keep them updated about what is happening in the classroom. Parents want to know what their children are learning and experiencing. Most importantly, convey your expectations clearly. Just like children, parents want to know what is expected of their students.
- Start off positive.
Within the first few weeks of school, make an effort to reach out to each student’s family with a positive comment about their child. This is especially important for students who you suspect may display academic or behavioral problems at some point in the year. For these students, keep in mind that parents have most likely heard these comments about their child every year. Saying something positive to start will make any less positive comments easier to hear.
- Ask for help.
Invite parents to help in your classroom. Parents will feel valued and appreciated and teachers can always use a second set of hands! For students who struggle academically or behaviorally, a parent visit will send a message to the student that their parent is a part of your team and it will allow the parent to possibly witness some of your areas of concern.
- Understand each family’s situation.
In relation to number 3, remember that each family’s circumstances are unique. Some parents work and some do not. Some have many children and for some, your student is their only child. Many families have issues you do not and probably will not know about. Make sure your classroom and time are available for all families. This means that sometimes you might have to be flexible, such as taking an evening conference for those working parents. As inconvenient as that may be for you, it means a lot to the parents and really lets them know that you are on their team!
- Dealing with past negative experiences.
Our past experiences shape our current and future expectations. You may have a student who had a difficult school year last year (or for the last several years). You may also have a student with parents who had a difficult school experience. Start each relationship with a clean slate. While it may be common for current teachers to “warn” next year’s teachers about difficult children and/or parents, try to clear your mind of those ideas and give each child and family a chance to make their own impression. Similarly, be a good representative of what a good teacher can be. Show interest in your student and their family. Be welcoming and complimentary, even if they are difficult at first. Stay consistent and they will eventually open up to your positivity.
Herlihy, Mark. (n.d.) Meet and Greet [photo]. Retrieved from http://www.hanscom.af.mil/News/Photos/igphoto/2000931248/.