Teaching forces us to be a jack of all
trades. Not only do we have to plan meaningful lessons, teach as well as manage
a classroom full of kids, and make sure to enrich or remediate to meet all of
their needs, we also have to build a rapport with our student’s parents. In
fact, building strong relationships and creating a “Let’s work together”
feeling is vital for a successful school year. So, how do we strengthen those connections?
I do it purposefully in these six ways:
from the Start
Night or a Meet the Teacher time, this first connection point is an important
one. I make sure to take this opportunity to greet each parent with a smile,
while trying to connect names and faces. I also stress in my Back to School
letter, as well as in my Back to School Night presentation, that I really want
to work together as a team, for the benefit each child.
Kids are notorious for saying that they did
“Nothing,” when parents ask what they learned in school each day. This kills
me! We know good and well that each day we’re encouraging those little devils
to learn and grow, while trying to fill their heads with knowledge. Since kids
don’t always share what we’re really doing though, a class newsletter, whether
it’s a hard copy or online, is an effective way to let parents know what we’re
studying on a regular basis.
of any major behavioral or learning difficulty, it’s always better to reach out
to parents to share what you’re seeing in the classroom, to ask for their help
if possible, and to work on finding solutions together. When we can work as
partners rather than adversaries, we’re much more effective.
quick note, email, or phone call about something wonderful that their child has
done or something that you appreciate in him/her, you are definitely making a
parent’s day! When your kids’ parents feel that you value and truly care about
their child, they will often give you their full support. Giving this kind of
positive feedback can go a long way towards strengthening bonds with the
parents of your class.
parents to help in the classroom, so they can see what is going on, and of
course, getting a bit of extra adult help is nice too. In addition to having
parents work with small groups or one on one with a struggling student, I love
for them to come when we’re doing something extra interesting or fun, like a
science experiment, Math or English Olympics, or for special art projects. The
wire art in the picture above is a great project but I can’t imagine doing it
all by myself. Lots of moms (and a few dads) showed up to help, and not only
was it great to have the extra hands, it also served as a meaningful connection
point between the parents and myself.
connected to the corporate world but I believe that it is a little spoken of,
but extremely important tool that teachers should think about using. When we
plan events which highlight what we’re doing in the classroom and the positive
things that our students are doing, we are creating positive connections and
memories associated with us as teachers and with school in general. I love to
plan events that showcase and celebrate student learning, such as the Wax Museum, a Poetry Café, and our Class Play in the spring. Parents love it
when we take the extra time and effort to set up these special events.
An Open House near the end of the year
is another opportunity to show what your kids have done throughout the year.
This is not a time to simply open your door and have the parents walk around
type of event, but it is one that takes lots of planning and saving of student
work, so we can really show off our kids and the awesome things we’ve been
doing throughout the year.
If you’ve taught any length of time,
you know that there are all sorts of parents, from the helicopter types who
hover, to the overly ambitious, to the ones we wish would get more involved.
But no matter what types of parents you are given to deal with, by establishing
and nurturing positive relationships with them, we strengthen the very
important home – school connection, and that’s good for everyone, especially
for your students.
Freebie I’ve created for you called Parent Communication Forms. These five different forms can
help you organize and keep track of parent communication:
I’m Jenn Larson and am a mom of two kids. I’ve been an elementary teacher for
20 years, spending most of that time in 2nd grade and 4th/5th. I love creating
teaching resources at TpT as The Teacher Next Door, and I truly enjoy
connecting with other teachers.