I’m sure we’ve all had at least one run in with a parent that has left a bitter taste in our mouth, whether it’s because they weren’t accepting their child’s grade, they didn’t agree with your teaching technique or simply because the pair of you don’t seem to get along. Regardless of the reasoning behind your run in (or run ins), the most simple and effective way to iron out these misunderstandings is to communicate with your students’ parents. You’d be surprised how much more enjoyable your conversation with parents may be if you take the time to build up a rapport with them — even the difficult conversations where their child may have done something wrong will become easier and the parent is more likely to be understanding if they know, trust and like you as a teacher.
Top Tricks for Communicating with Parents:
Learn their names
In order to develop a relationship with anyone, not just parents, it’s important to learn their names and also how they like to be addressed. Angie may be fine with you addressing her with her first name whereas Jane may prefer Ms. Barlow. Simply addressing parents by how they want to be addressed makes for a more personal relationship.
Positive phone calls home
Phone calls home don’t always have to be to report bad behaviour or to express concerns that you may be having with a student. Only having interactions that are negative will lead parents to associate you with bad news. Calling home and letting parents know how well their child has done in class, no matter how small, will help to build a positive relationship, not only between you and parent, but you and student.
Regardless of how hard you try to build up a positive relationship, it’s not going to eradicate all complaints that parents have. It’s more than likely that at some point in your career you will encounter an upset parent, but in these situations try to remain calm — count to 10, let them finish and then talk. Nothing good can be solved from an argument, at the end of the day you both have their child’s best interest at heart and for the good of the child, both you and parent will be able to come to some sort of agreement.
Invite Parents In
The key to building relationships with parents is to get them involved! Be that through a ‘meet the teacher’ evening, monthly meetings with parents to catch up on progress, asking them to volunteer in school or at school trips. Involving parents in school life not only helps them to relate to you as a teacher but it also helps build the school as a community!
Keep them Involved
A one off interaction isn’t going to be the start of a beautiful relationship, make sure you offer multiple opportunities to get parents involved so you can get to know them more and offer them an insight into their child’s school life. Letters home don’t always make it home…perhaps sending emails to parents introducing them to yourself and keeping them in the loop on any events that are occurring, or homework that has been sent will help parents to feel fully involved in their child’s school life. It also offers another platform where they can communicate directly with you.
Building relationships with parents is important as it can only help to further engage them in their students’ school life and home-learning. A parent engaged in a student’s education and actively helping them at home can add up to 3 months additional learning onto a child’s progression. Having a clear line of communication with a parent allows you to inform them on homework, the areas they need additional help and gives you the opportunity to give parents tips on how to help more at home. Remember, you’re on the same team!