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July 13, 2012

4 Tips for Improving Parent-Teacher Communication

Written By: Stephanie Moorman
X 4 Tips for Improving Parent-Teacher Communication

4 Tips for Improving Parent-Teacher Communication

One of the hardest, yet most important parts of our job as teachers is communicating with parents. Each day, the pride and joy of each of their lives walks through our doors, so it is only natural that we keep parents in the loop as far as school is concerned.

With that being said, it is something that I struggle with each year. Keeping 30+ students’ parents informed of the goings on in class is challenging to say the least. But there are some things that I have done to at least try to keep the lines of communication open. Here are a few ideas for you that I use in my classroom.

Parent-Teacher Communication Tactics

Communication Magnets

On the first day of school, I send home a packet of information about my classroom. In that packet is a magnet with my name, room number, school phone, classroom website, and my email address. This magnet has a little letter accompanying it asking the parents to place this on the refrigerator for the entire year. Even if it is just to remember my name, the magnet helps the parents to feel comfortable contacting me. I made my magnet using the business card sized magnets you can buy at your local office supply store and my computer. It was fairly simple to create, yet has a tremendous impact on my year.

POSITIVE Phone Call Home

I always start the year off with a phone call to introduce myself to the parents and talk to the child. I like to say something nice and fun that happened that first week of school, as well as talk to the parents (some of whom I still haven’t met) I can not tell you how many times, at the end of the year, parents have told me how much they cherish that initial phone call. It sets up for them a positive “We are in this together” tone and helps them to not dread phone calls from school!

Weekly Reports

The most effective way I have found to keep the parents informed is by sending out a Weekly Report. I have created a form, which I use each and every week in my class, that is basically a “check and circle” type of form. I note the behavior, academic progress, and any areas of need each week and send it home. Even in my classes of 36 students, I was able to get these done and sent home. The parents become accustomed to looking for it, and the students become accustomed to getting it signed and discussed with their parents. The best part of it is that I NEVER have a parent who is “surprised” come report card time. The Weekly Report basically keeps them in the know of all things regarding their child.

Tell Me About Your Child

One of the most effective ways I have found to get to know my students better is by enlisting the help of their parents. At Back to School Night I place a little brainstorm bubble on the desks of the students. As the parents sit there, I ask them to fill it in with anything they wish me to know about their child. This truly has opened my eyes about the little learners sitting in my classroom. But a side effect is that the parents then know that I care about their child as a CHILD. It helps to put them at ease when the person who represents their entire world is sitting in my classroom for ¼ of the day. They are then more apt to work with me because I showed I cared.

So there you have it…four simple ways that I have used to try and keep the flow of communication between the parents and myself going throughout the year. What have you done in your room that has been effective?

 

About the Author

Stephanie Moorman is a 5th grade teacher who has been teaching elementary school for 14 years. She has her Masters in Education and is Nationally Board Certified. She is the creator of the Teaching in Room 6 blog where she enjoys sharing her strategies with others. You can find more great ideas for the classroom at her blog, on Facebook, and on Pinterest.

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  • Stephanie
    July 16, 2012

    Thank you so much for your comments everyone! I am glad you were all able to gain a little bit from the article. Melissa and Mrs. K, I do have a copy of the Weekly Report I use on my blog. You can find it here

    Thank you Brandi for giving me the opportunity to guest blog for you! I had fun 🙂

    ~Stephanie
    Teaching in Room 6

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  • Deb
    July 14, 2012

    These are really good tips and I love the “Positive Call Home”! I do send home daily behavior forms but sometimes parents either don’t look at it or just don’t sign it. Got to find another way to get them involved so I think I will try the “positive call home” and see if that involves parents more.

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  • Mary
    July 13, 2012

    So many great point were made. I always feel like great communication and great relationships are HUGE in Kindergarten to set a great foundation for a student’s education. I also do many of these things. This year I had 5 sets of siblings in my class! Because I had great communication with the parents the first time around, at Meet the Teacher last year, those parents were telling the other parents, who didn’t know me yet, how awesome their K experience was going to be! It was amazing! Sometimes we forget communication is the gift that keeps giving!

    Mary
    Sharing Kindergarten

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  • Jennifer Runde
    July 13, 2012

    Such good ideas, Stephanie! Making that first positive phone call home is so important to the parents AND the students. I have been doing a weekly letter to students, but want to update them through a classroom blog this year.

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  • Monica Schroeder
    July 13, 2012

    I too send home a packet of information for my parents on Meet the Teacher Night at our school but I love your idea of trying to make positive phone calls home during the first few weeks. That is such a great way to put parent’ s and student’s minds at ease. When I taught in Ohio, we used to get our lists right after school was out and we could then send postcards or welcome letters to the students in August. It was such a positive way to start the school year.

    Thanks so much for sharing your ideas!
    ?Monica
    The Schroeder Page

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  • Kim
    July 13, 2012

    WOW! How wonderful that you work so had to establish a positive relationship with parents. This opens the door to communication throughout the year. What a great list of ideas for veteran and novice teachers alike. Thanks for sharing your strategies!

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  • Mrs. K.
    July 13, 2012

    I LOVE the magnet idea! I’ve seen a couple of teachers who do that, and I’d like to do it next year, as well. It’s a great way to get parents used to seeing your name…and if you put some cutesy little picture on there, maybe they’ll learn to associate your name as something positive. 🙂

    I also like the “check and circle” weekly form. It sounds like a quick way to assess every single student. Do you have a copy of this chart in a TpT store or something that I could look at?

    Another great way to communicate with parents is via Twitter. I am in LOVE with Twitter for the classroom, as evidenced by my multiple posts over it on my blog. 🙂 I also like a class website, but I’m finding that I post way too much information on there, and then it stresses me out to keep up with it when things get busy. (Maybe that’s another reason I love Twitter so much — it keeps me to 140 characters per tweet!)

    Great post!

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  • Tammy Aiello
    July 13, 2012

    In my school, it’s common practice to call home the week before school starts to touch base with parents and add that personal touch. I like the idea of setting a positive tone, and try to make “sunshine calls” any time I need to pick up the phone to talk to a parent. I think I’ll try to do it once for each student within the first 3 weeks this coming year. LOVE the idea of the carbonless copies pad! Anything to keep from writing things down twice! 🙂

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  • Caitlin
    July 13, 2012

    You have WONDERFUL ideas! My goal this year is to send home weekly reports like you mentioned above! I also think it is a great idea to start the year off with a positive phone call! Great post 🙂 Thanks!!

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  • Cheryl
    July 13, 2012

    Thanks so much! What great tips! 🙂

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  • Kathie Wainwright
    July 13, 2012

    Thanks for sharing Stephanie! These are some really great tips. I look forward to reading more once the school year starts : )

    Kathie

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  • Jen
    July 13, 2012

    Love the positive notes home 🙂 Too many bad notes and not enough good notes going home…

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  • Ginger Watkins
    July 13, 2012

    I always do the positive beginning of the year phone call! I make a little note next to each kids name when I see something I want to share with a parent. It’s hard sometimes to find positives for those challenging friends, but I always manage! =)

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  • Jana Wilson (@cimeronejana)
    July 13, 2012

    A positive phone call home is a great idea to start the year off with the right tone. Great article!

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  • Melissa
    July 13, 2012

    Great ideas! I’d love to see a copy of your weekly report form.

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