I used SurveyMonkey.com to help with a survey in an attempt to help both parents and teachers build better relationships. These are the tips that were shared regarding how teachers can build positive relationships with parents.*
- Show empathy when there are concerns and make sure to always end things on a positive note. As a teacher myself, I always make sure I acknowledge all the hard work my parents are doing with their children and to reiterate that we are a team.
- Greet parents by name. Open lines of communication and use them to let the parent know what the child is doing right more often that issues or concerns that come up. Respond quickly to concerns and questions the parent have. Be open to parental suggestions. They know their child best. Listen more than you talk.
- It’s important for teachers to recognize families as their child’s first and best teacher. Intentionally getting to know families, listening to what parents have to tell them about their child, and working WITH families to provide a program that meets the needs of the child will help create positive relationships with families. Far too often, I see an attitude from teachers that they are trying to teach children “in spite of the families” rather than working with the families.
- Frequent contact by email, phone, blogs, Twitter. Good news emails, phone calls to parents before there are any problems.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate–send out curriculum updates, projects due, whatever. And also communicate with parents about their individual children. They have no idea who their child is once they are in the classroom setting nor what they do.
- Open communication–via newsletter, email, etc. Willingness to listen to the parent’s opinion/side Respond quickly to communication from the parent
- Same things as in advice to parents (Assume positive intentions. Don’t go on and on about how amazing last year’s teacher was. If you have specific concerns, set a meeting right at the beginning of the year. Use this to share information not make demands. Let the teacher know you are there to be in partnership. Offer help but if they don’t accept don’t take it personally. Remember that teachers are human, just like you are. Treat them as you would want to be treated. They are somebody’s parent, partner, child too.). And teachers need to consider parents as huge assets in the lives of their children even if they don’t come to meetings or volunteer. Find authentic ways to have parents volunteer. Use the time to teach the parent something they can use with their child at home to support school, not just for photocopying.
- Respond in a timely manner to emails, notes. Even though the teacher may teach 20 or 80 students that parent may only have 1 child. That child is important to the parent.
- Invite them to school activities. Ask for help from home in a non-threatening way
- Communicate frequently.
- 1 – express excitement about the start of the school year. 2 – if at all possible, review relevant information from each child’s cumulative file. 3 – Engage parents in ways to make them feel welcomed; stress the importance of engaging in a real (authentic) relationship with parents.
- Be available/easily accessible Report positive behaviors, not just negative Have a positive attitude.
- Be open, honest, and fill us in on the day…my children’s previous school would just say, “Fine,” when I asked how the day was. They are moving to a new school this year and I’m hoping for a little more feedback at the end of the day. Even something as simple as who they really liked playing with that day, which can help us plan play dates outside of school.
- Keep them informed. You may think you’re doing well to keep up with 26 kids, but each parent worries about their one kid in that room. Emails, newsletters, pictures are all awesome ways to stay in touch.
- Treat the parents more like friends you admire and not “You don’t know anything,”!
*I will post the tips for parents in a separate post.
What do you think? Do you have anything to add?
Thanks to all who participated!