Learn how to start the new school year off on the right foot with strong parent communication!
With the ever-growing population of helicopter parents, having effective parent communication is something that is crucial in any classroom. As teachers, we usually start off strong, but before long we are only having conversations with parents of students who are giving us trouble. Luckily, with the help of technology, there are many easy and quick ways to establish lasting parent communication this school year. Try utilizing one of these strategies into your classroom to see the positive impacts that parent communication can bring.
Tips for Effective Parent Communication
Start with a Survey!
In my welcome back to school letter, I always include a survey to kick off parent communication. It is nothing long or complicated. It is simply a way for parents to share, and a way for me to learn more about their child. I always get comments back from parents that they enjoyed bragging about their child while sharing their needs. Here are some examples of great things to include on your survey:
*My child approaches learning with… curiosity, confidence, excitement, anxiety, reluctance
*My child learns best by…listening, watching, doing
*My child finds it challenging to…
*My child’s favorite subject is…
*My child’s special talents and interests include…
*List any other information that would be helpful in making this a great year.
*What is the best way to communicate with you this year?
*Would you like to be a parent volunteer?
*Do you have any topic or interest that you would like to share with the class?
Create a Weekly Email Blast
Help parents stay up to date with the happenings in your classroom. Once your have collected your parent contact information, use your email program to create a group for each class. This will allow you to quickly and easily email the entire class with announcements and reminders. I like to send out my emails on Friday for the following week, but you can do it at any time. In the past I have included photographs of labs, helpful web links, project rubrics, requested supplies, and any other information that may not make it home to the parent.
Have a Social Media Presence
Take email one step further with a social media page for each class. This is the same idea as the weekly blast, but can be updated daily if desired. It is great for quick reminders or sharing photos. This will get both students and parents involved, and maybe even communicating with each other! Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all great outlets for this form of parent communication. One key tip is to create a separate “teacher account” for this purpose to help protect your personal information.
Set Up Text Reminders
While parents may not always check their email or social media sites, it is likely that they will always see a text! There are many free services out there that allow you to send out texts while masking both your phone number and that of the parent or student. You just simply have them subscribe to your class and that is it! You can send out group messages and individuals messages as desired. One great service is Remind.
Beef Up Your Class Webpage
Most of us have class webpages through our school, but let’s be honest, they are probably a little boring. If weekly emails, social media, or text is too much to keep up with, utilize your webpage for parent communication! I like to update my homepage at least once every few weeks with the most important information. This includes test dates, project assignments, links to helpful resources, and supply requests. On subpages you can include more detail for each unit that parents may need, such as links to the electronic textbook, the school calendar, or homework assignments. If you’re ready to take it up a notch, add photos of your classroom, post a fun YouTube video, or try out the blog function.
Remember to Point Out the Positives!
One of the best ways to get parents on your side early on is to point out the positives of their child. Parent communication often only occurs when we need to deal with problem behavior, but why not start off the year with praise? I try to email positive feedback for at least five students in each class each week for the first couple months of school. I’m sure you can already see the ones that may give you trouble, so start with those students first! That way, when it comes time for the negative email, the parent already knows you are on their side and will feel less defensive.
However you decide to up your parent communication game this year, be sure it is something you can keep up with. You don’t want to start something that you will no longer have time for by fall break! Introduce your method during your open house or meet-and-greet to show parents how it works. This is especially important if it is something that they need to sign up for or subscribe to. By trying any of these methods, you will soon see how communicating with your parents will make this new school year even better!
Alexandra D. Owens
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