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
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!
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.