Six Things You Can Do to Improve Your Communication with Parents
Date Posted: 2/13/2017
Parents can be one of your greatest classroom allies. Make sure your communication with them stays positive throughout the year with these six simple tips for parent communication.
- At the beginning of the year, contact every parent with a positive note, email, or phone call. This doesn’t have to be elaborate. A simple email or note home to set the tone for the year will be worth the effort. Knowing their child is important will make the more difficult calls that may happen later in the year easier for parents.
- Be mindful and purposeful in all you say and write. Irritation shows even over the phone. Take a breath before you speak and map out what you will say in your mind before you make a phone call. If you’re communicating over email, remember you cannot take back something that is written. Start emails with empathy and show appreciation for parents who want to be involved.
- Surround your desk with positive mementos. When you send emails or speak on the phone, look around your desk for positive inspiration. These mementos should be things that remind you of your value and the value you bring to your students. Examples include:
- Positive notes from friends, students, teachers, parents, or administrators
- Motivational posters
- Inspiring plaques (my favorite is a gift from administrator: “Speak kind words and you will hear kind echoes”)
- Anything that makes you smile
- Don’t forget that every time you communicate with a parent is a new opportunity. Take the time to tell them about parent night, news from your school, or any local activity they may find useful.
- Be an active listener and reflect what you hear. Remember to really listen when you speak to parents and respond to what they actually say. This may sound simple, but it takes effort to actively listen and reply to what is said—not just what you thought they were going to say.
- Collaborate with your peers. You are part of a team, and your colleagues are some of your greatest assets. Talk to your peers about the most effective ways they have found to communicate with parents, and share your own tips. Discussing the experiences you have had with specific parents may also provide you with background information that will help you have a more productive conversation. However, be sure to enter each conversation with a clean slate. If others have had bad experiences, don’t let those color your interactions with parents before they even get started.
Cheryl Drews is the records clerk for Irving ISD. She works with parents over the phone, in person, and via email on a daily basis.
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