My son has taken his first steps into formal schooling this year and it's been fascinating seeing it from the other side. He's enjoying it throughly and has a wonderful group of educators, but it has made me think about how parents and educators communicate - and how teachers can ensure that they effectively communicate with their students.
1. Let Parents Know How They Can Contact You
Whether it's in-person, through email, through notes or on the phone - let parents know how they can get in contact with you. Give them all the information they might need (to include the name/class of their child, to visit at a certain time in person, to leave a return phone number) - anything to make it easier for them and for yourself. Some parents might find it difficult to make contact, so offering a couple of options with some clear information can make it easier for them and help you establish a good relationship with those parents.
2. Reach Out to Contact Parents
There are a number of ways you can make contact with all your parents - through a website or social media page, through email or paper newsletters, through open nights or events where parents are invited. These are wonderful opportunities to let parents know about curriculum, about behaviour and organisational expectations, about homework and outstanding work. It can be a great way of getting everyone on the same page and can help you create a classroom community which goes beyond you and your students.
3. Contact Parents About the Good Things
This one comes from an old principal of mine. He challenged us all to ring a number of parents each week to share the good things our students were doing. It had an amazing result for our students and their parents - some parents had never had positive news come casually home from school before. It doesn't take too long to identify a couple of parents to phone and a couple of talking points, but it might make a huge difference to them.
4. Be Consistent With Your Contact
Lots of us start off the school year with great intentions, but it can be easy to let it fall aside as other responsibilities pile up. Try to be consistent with at least one kind of contact - even a brief note or blog post can maintain the relationships you have.
Maintaining contact with parents might not seem like the most important thing to do in the very long list of things teachers do, but it's one of those things which means a lot to parents and can help you build a community which helps you out when you need it the most.