Thursday, August 17, 2017

Communications with Parents

“What aspects of communication are most challenging for you? What frustrates you about communication?”

I think the hardest part of communicating is when I can’t reach a student’s parents. There may be many reasons for this. The contact phone numbers on school records are not always the most accurate. Phone numbers change or numbers may be recorded wrong. I also get very nervous every year during the initial contact. I want to put my best foot forward and hope the parents like me.

Many are afraid of hearing from their child’s teacher because of previous bad experiences. Maybe their child has been in trouble in the past and the only time they have heard from the teacher is to hear what their child has done wrong.

Some parents may feel that the teacher is judging them or criticizing them. Suggestions that may help the child may make some parents feel as if the teacher is telling them that they are not doing a good job.

I usually ask the students to give me the best phone number to reach their parents and I try to call on the first day. If I get a wrong number or a disconnected number, I have the student call their parents with me present so that I can get a number to reach them. If I can’t get them to do this, I explain to them that I will have to make a home visit if I don’t hear from the parents by the end of the week and usually most of them will call me. If I still don’t reach the parents I make a home visit.

I start off the contact by introducing myself and telling them how excited I am about having their child in my class. I also tell them that I will be contacting them often to share with them news about the class and about the good things their child is doing in class. I then offer a phone number for them to reach me (I usually give them my personal phone number but I encourage other teachers to give them a google voice number if they don’t want to do this) and ask that they don’t call me before 7 am or after 9 pm. I also encourage them to call me if they have any concerns or problems rather than waiting for the next day of school. This has helped de-escalate many potential angry situations because the student has not told the whole story when they got home.

I also explain that we are a team and it will take all of us to help the student be successful this year. That is my primary goal and I want the parents to know this.

Once I can establish a rapport with the parents, regular contact is usually not a problem. I ask the parents if they haven’t heard from me that they are free to call me and check on how their child is doing. But it is the initial contact that is the hardest and most challenging.

How do you communicate with your students’ parents? What do you find the most challenging? Please share.

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