If I can be transparent for a moment and say, as a teacher, parent communication has always been difficult for me. I have always been able to foster good relationships with my parents but finding a strategy that I can maintain when my teacher life gets hectic has always been a challenge that I continue to work through.
I’ll be transparent for a moment and say, as a teacher, parent communication has always been difficult for me. I have always been able to foster good relationships with my parents but finding a strategy that I can maintain when my teacher life gets hectic has always been a challenge that I continue to work through.
Below, I have compiled some great communication ideas that I have used myself or I have seen fellow teachers use with success. Remember to consider the way(s) that you like to communicate and the way(s) your parents like to communicate. If you are not a phone person do not promise to call parents weekly because you will become inconsistent. Conversely, if you have a parent who never checks their email do not make all of your communications through email. Find a balance that fits your communication style and considers the families and students that you serve.
Parent Communication Strategies
Give a survey
At the start of the school year, possibly during Open House, add a question on your parent surveys that asks families the way they prefer to receive communication. This way you will know how parents respond best. Some parents do not use email but they will respond to a text message right away. During this time also share with parents the best ways they can reach you.
Remind is an app that allows teachers to send messages to families that can be received by email, text message or directly through the app. I have used Remind in my own classroom. It is a simple, quick and effective way to communicate with your whole class or to follow up with parents about a specific student. You can use Remind for behavior updates or general school or class information. Remind is also good because you can send attachments and images along with your message.
Get a room parent
This is by far one of the best things I ever had when I was a teacher. A good room parent can bridge the communication gap between teachers and parents in a major way. A room parent can help teachers coordinate parties and events in your class and get volunteers when an after-school activity is coming up. Room parents are good for organizing the social aspects of the classroom. Make sure you do not share any academic or behavioral information with your room parent about other students in the class; they are best used to manage the fun activities so you can focus on the other aspects of the classroom. When choosing a room parent, choose a parent who is reliable and organized.
Weekly newsletters are a great way to keep families up-to-date on what is happening in school and your class. Consider giving parents the option to receive the newsletter in paper form or as an electronic copy via email. Keep your newsletter simple, prioritizing the most important information and making maintenance on a weekly basis manageable. A good rule for email communication is to allow yourself 24 hours to respond to any parent inquiry. Share this rule with parents at the start of the year so they know what to expect with email communication.
Text Messages and Google Voice
I have found text messages to be a great way to share quick information with parents. At the start of the year, I will input all of my parent’s phone numbers in my phone so I can contact them when necessary. Google Voice is a great option if you also like using text messages but would prefer to keep your cell phone number private. You can register for a Google Voice number and call directly through your phone. Google Voice is also great because you can set do not disturb limits on your phone number. Let parents know the window of time they can expect text messages from you in the evening and on the weekends. Share this rule with parents at the start of the year so they know what to expect with text communication.
Calls home for good news
You would be surprised how an unplanned call home with some good news can make the difference between you and your parents. Families are used to receiving phone calls when their student is off task, a positive phone call home is a boost of positive energy for the student and their family.
Have a quick chat at drop off or pick up
I have found that if you are able to manage, based on the family’s schedule, a quick conversation at drop off or pick up can really make a difference with building rapport and communicating with parents.
Make a home visit
This is a fantastic way to build a relationship with your parents and students. Students love seeing their teachers outside of school and seeing them at their house is even better! This is definitely a time commitment especially if you serve many students or if you have students that live throughout your city but, if you can manage, visiting students at home is a wonderful way to open the lines of communication with your students and their parents.
Create a class Facebook page
Facebook is a great way to stay connected to parents and keep them updated about what is happening in your classroom. You can post pictures and update families through the page. Make sure that the page is private and only accessible to the families in your classroom. Also set norms for appropriate ways to communicate in the group. Make sure that you have gotten parent permission to post images of students in your class.
The most important thing that I have found with parent communication is consistency. Whichever way(s) you choose to communicate with parents make sure you are able to maintain the practice throughout the year. Building a strong relationship with families makes all the difference when you need to have difficult conversations about academic or behavioral progress. In addition, be sure to set clear guidelines with families about how and when they can communicate with you. Developing a relationship of mutual respect is important for student success.
Here at Kickboard we have seen school culture transformed because of effective parent communication. We also have the tools and resources to support communication with parents in a way that promotes positive school culture. Click here to learn more about how Kickboard can support positive parent communication in your school.