Effective parent-teacher communication is an important aspect of a successful school year, but what are some of the best ways to establish open lines of communication with your students' parents? Keep reading for four teacher tips that can make communicating with parents easier and more efficient.
According to a 2016 article written by Brown University's Matthew A. Kraft and published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, there are clear benefits associated with effective communication between parents and teachers. Some of the positive effects resulting from regular parent-teacher communication include increased engagement, improved behavior, and better academic performance in students, in addition to more parental involvement in the class. However, parent-teacher communication isn't as frequent or prevalent as it could be.
Are you wondering how you can improve communication between you—the teacher—and the parents of your students? The following are four helpful tips that can help you maximize the potential of parent-teacher communication so that everyone benefits.
Tip #1: Plan Your Strategy Early
Creating a strategy for teacher-parent communication prior to the beginning of the school year can be beneficial for both parties, in addition to serving as a timesaver. For example, consider including your communication strategy in a teacher introduction letter.
As you develop your communication strategy, you'll want to think about your objectives. What are you hoping to accomplish by communicating with parents?
For instance: Are you hoping for:
- Better student performance overall?
- Fewer absences?
- More parental involvement?
- Decreased behavioral issues?
- All of the above?
Whatever the case may be, having clear goals, expectations, and protocols can ensure that both teacher and parents are on the same page from the get-go. It's helpful for parents to know when and why they'll be notified, and it's helpful for you to have a system in place for doing so.
You'll also want to set clear times for communication so that parents know when they can either reach you, or expect you to respond to any messages or calls that you may receive. Establishing specific lines of communication is also important, which leads us to our next tip.
Tip #2: Utilize a Mix of Communication Methods
These days, it's no secret that parent-teacher communication can take several forms. To reach the largest number of parents possible and achieve the highest level of response, consider utilizing a variety of communication methods. Notes, emails, and phone calls can be effective modes of communication with some parents. However, other parents may find it more convenient to communicate with you via an app on their smartphone.
Remind is a free app that makes communicating with parents easy and hassle free. With Remind, you can send real-time messages and announcements to all parents, certain groups of parents, or just one parent, depending on your needs. Since parents will receive an alert on their phones, they'll be more apt to read the message right away and more likely to respond, if necessary.
Tip #3: Establish a Level of Trust
As a teacher, it's very important to let parents know that you take their children's education seriously and that you can be trusted to be discrete and respectful with sensitive information. Assure parents that any concerns or issues will be brought to their attention immediately and not discussed with other parents or staff members who aren't involved (which can cause unnecessary drama). Communicating with parents and establishing a level of trust early on gives them confidence in you and lets them know that they can come to you with any concerns, and vice versa.
Tip #4: Monitor and Adjust as Needed
A couple of months into the school year, assess how your overall strategy for teacher-parent communication is working. Here are some things to consider:
- Are you meeting your communication objectives?
- Are parents both reaching out and responding to you?
- Which methods of communication are working best for everyone?
- Could one method of communication be eliminated to save time?
- What can you do to engage difficult or unresponsive parents?
By evaluating and making adjustments as needed, teacher-parent communication can be efficient and beneficial for everyone involved, including students. As a result, your classroom may experience some of the positive effects we mentioned earlier, such as better behaved, higher-performing, more engaged students and more involved parents.
During any form of communication, always remember to treat all parents with respect and use a friendly tone of voice. If disagreements happen to arise, remain calm, stay focused, and work through them professionally.
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