Tuesday, September 25, 2007

3 Steps to Effective Parent/Teacher Communication

I know that when you saw this title you probably groaned loudly but wait…don’t touch that dial (or close this window)!

Contact with parents and guardians have made a huge difference in my teaching experience throughout my career. I have used this method the entire time and it is one of the most effective things you can do towards behavior management. If you follow these steps, I truly believe it will make a difference in your classroom. Of course it will take up some of your personal time, but it will be worth it.

I called all my students’ homes within the first 2 weeks of school (it isn’t too late to start now). I introduced myself and explained about how excited I was to teach their child. I encouraged them to contact me if they had any concerns or questions and informed them that I would be calling frequently. This only took a few minutes. If you have 150 students, you can call 15 homes a night. This usually takes about one hour every night if you only call during the weekdays. Some parents won’t be home so I left this message on their answering machine.

2 weeks later, I called home again and I made a positive comment about every student. Nothing negative was mentioned. If the parent tried to steer it in the negative, I explained that I was trying to help the student’s self concept by looking at their positive qualities. I also asked the parent to praise the student for my positive comments. In class the next day I would always mention that I was calling home to brag about them. I even asked the students I called what was mentioned at home. Many were thrilled to have a teacher say positive things about them.

For 75-150 students, I would call once a month and repeat this process. When I had 50 students, I called every 2 weeks at first. If there were students who were acting up, I would not call their homes the first month. I would only call the ones who were acting appropriately and then announce that is why I called home. Many students will improve their behavior so they can get this call. If you see a small improvement in the behavior of a student who usually acts out, call the parent right there during class in front of the student. Brag about the student’s behavior. This will only take a couple of minutes and you will reap many benefits from this.

By doing this, you are changing the cycle of bad behavior. Students are not getting attention for bad behavior but instead they are getting it for good behavior. If a student does not have a phone, I would send home postcards. Students will also see that you really care about them in order to look for the good in them and respect you more. Parents will love you because they will see that you really care about their child. This will help you in case there is a situation where you do have to call them about a problem situation and they will be supportive of you because of the extra mile you go for their child.

I feel this was one of the most important things I ever did while teaching.


30plusteacher said...

Great post. I agree. Those calls home do help in a large majority of the cases.

loonyhiker said...

I have seen so many new teachers not want to do this but I keep encouraging them to start.

Don said...

I think parent/teacher communication is one of the most important tools to help a teacher be more successful.

Anonymous said...

Effective parent/teacher communication is also one of the most important things to help the student be more successful.

Wendy said...

Sorry that I am responding to old articles, but I am a new blogger. I just love your blogs. There is so much great advice.

I really agree with getting on the good side with parents from the beginning. I was just telling a future student teacher of mine how I like to get on the same level of a parent to let them know that I am here for their child. I hear many new teachers talk about parents as if they are on the opposite side. I think that is their first mistake. It is so important to work together.

These steps would be a great addition to what I already do. I am anxious to try it for the coming year. I have plenty of time to prepare. I did something similar the first years that I taught and I just have gotten away from it. Hearing it again made me realize how important it is. Thanks again for the great ideas!

loonyhiker said...

@Wendy: I'm glad you have joined the blogging world and that you found my post useful. Please let me know how it goes when you try some of this stuff. Glad you agree that it is important.

RDW said...

My biggest parent/teacher tip is to be proactive in calling parents early before a student becomes a problem, in order to communicate something entirely positive. That way, in case you need to tell them about a behavior or academic issue you're having, your commentary holds more weight with parents.

loonyhiker said...

@RDW: You are so right! It is much easier to call parents before a problem comes up. Then parents are more receptive and trusting.

Anonymous said...

Great article as for me. It would be great to read more concerning this matter. The only thing I would like to see on that blog is some photos of some gadgets.
Alex Watcerson
Block phone