Five ways teachers can improve their relationships with their students’ parents

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It doesn’t matter if you are in your first year as a teacher or your twentieth year of teaching; there is nothing more important than the relationship with your students’ parents. Having a good relationship with parents is essential to ensuring students are receiving the best education. Throughout the long school year, there will be times when the parent and the teacher are not always on the same page, but that does not mean they cannot work together. Here are five ways teachers can improve the relationship:

1. Begin early

The first two weeks of the school year are essential to the relationship between teachers and parents. The beginning of the school year is a great time to start the relationship on the right foot. As a teacher, it is important to make that initial contact to start the relationship. During that initial conversation, it is best practice for the teacher to ask questions about the student. This shows parents the teacher values their opinion and wants expert advice on how best to educate their child(ren). Many parents may feel intimated by the school setting, but if the teacher makes early contact, it will ease some of the worry about the school.

2. Encourage the parental involvement

A parent’s contribution to the school community is huge. Many parents have unique skills that can be used to support the school community. Parents are great volunteers on field trips or school events. Parents also are great at creating and spearheading programs within the school. As a teacher, it is important when you speak to parents to listen closely.  During those conversations, you not only learn about the student, but you also learn about the parents. During the conversation your parents may come up with ideas that can benefit you as a teacher.

3. Communicate often and vary the communication

As a teacher, it is important that after making initial contact that you continue the contact. Parent contact is not always about calling them on the phone. Make an effort that if parents pick their child up, you stop and have a conversation face to face. One of the best ways to build that relationship is to communicate weekly in a newsletter. Parents will appreciate when they are kept informed about what is going on in the classroom and in the school.

4. Give positive reports

No parent wants always wants to hear how their student is not doing well. The quickest way to become isolated from your students’ parents is to be the teacher that always calls when the student is in trouble. I am not saying you should not call when the student is in trouble, but be sure to mix in some positive reports in those communications. Parents need to know that when the teacher calls it can be either positive or negative.

5. Smile

There is nothing more contagious and welcoming than a smile. If you truly want to create a great relationship and partnership with your students’ parents just simply smile when you see them. That smile from the teacher to the parent can be all that’s needed to have a great relationship.

 

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David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.