How Can Teachers Communicate Effectively with Parents?
Why is Teacher-Parent Communication so Important?
Now, more than ever, establishing effective communications with parents is vital to classroom success. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many school systems to rethink their delivery of educational services.
- By effectively communicating with parents, teachers should expect to see students completing their assignments more frequently, grades will likely improve, and most parents will begin seeing the teachers as a resource.
- In a virtual instruction scenario, parents and caregivers become your “hands” and can serve as a live, in-person surrogates for the classroom teacher. They can assist with lessons and help demonstrate and elaborate key concepts.
- In a hybrid-instruction model and an in-person model, parents and caregivers can help the teacher by reinforcing concepts taught in class during live instruction.
For teachers to tap this resource, they need to have open lines of communication between school and home. I am not simply referring to a one-directional firehose of information being shot from the school system to the parents, nor am I referring to a gossip-laden form of conversation run by a couple of over-involved parents. I am referring to back and forth, substantive communication between a teacher and parents.
Creative Ways for Teachers to Communicate with Parents
Because of COVID-19, changes might have to be made in the way teachers meet with parents. Face-to-face conferences may not be feasible, so begin thinking of alternative ways to meet as well as begin dissecting what parents are looking for in a meeting.
First and foremost, parents are seeking out information about their child. Be sure your classroom is providing parents with enough information. In the virtual world, conventional bulletin boards are on hold for a while, so begin thinking of other ways to showcase student work.
1. Record a Podcast
A weekly podcast recording in which you share your students’ work with parents would be sufficient.
2. Set up a Social Media Classroom Page
Setting up a classroom social media page would be worth the time and effort.
3. Host a Virtual Meeting
Perhaps once-a-week virtual meetings with parents might work for you. Just remember to take control of the meeting agenda and respect participants’ time. Remain on task and don’t allow your meeting to get hijacked by a few parents. Not all questions need to be answered in front of the whole group, and very personal questions can be answered offline with the parent.
4. Provide Weekly Behavior Reports
There should be some form of providing parents weekly behavior reports. These types of reports could be used to help guide students into being more productive and contributory to the whole class. They could be limited to attendance information or they could be more expansive. For instance, they could include information about the amount or type of student engagement noted in class.
These behavior reports might assist you in determining barriers that may be impacting instruction.
- Suggest a quieter, less busy setting—In virtual instruction, if the computer is set up looking out the window or in a very busy setting, it can be distracting.
- If the internet is continually disconnecting—There could be some joint problem-solving to establish a more stable connection, which would help avoid instructional interruptions.
Regular communication in terms of student behavior might illuminate underlying stressors and difficulties that impact your instruction. Show parents that each student is important, and provide evidence as to the work each child is doing in class.
Helpful Tips for Teacher-Parent Communication
- Time is valuable—If parents get answers, they will likely come back for more. Please don’t feel the need to teach an entire subject area at once. Teach a little bit at a time. Bite-sized pieces are the easiest to digest!
- Recruit parents to help—There are often extremely savvy and capable parents who might be able to assist in this process.
- Training is often vital—Look for tools that can help you provide information about your students as well as resources that may assist parents and caregivers in helping their child. Remember, while parents care deeply about their children, they often have little or no background knowledge about the content you may be referencing.
Learning Without Tears Can Help Teachers!
Learning Without Tears has resources to support your parent partnerships.
- The Handwriting Without Tears Interactive Digital Teaching Tool helps teachers track students’ progress through the curriculum. They can also identify when concepts are not being mastered. There are many short videos and additional resources available to model for parents and teachers how they can re-mediate areas in which their student is struggling.
- The Handwriting Without Tears Digital Student App allows students to access their assigned handwriting lessons at school or at home. It provides instructional videos to educate both the child and the parent, as well as opportunities to practice within their student edition or through printable activities.
- Our Distance Learning pages provide teachers and families with a wealth of resources to expand student learning at home, including videos, free downloadable activities, and even sample lessons.
Look for additional resources available on a curriculum’s website to help parents and caregivers learn more about the optimal way in which to teach various concepts. Keep in mind that the best videos are often short and concise.
We are in a strange new world, and education is being challenged like never before. I hope I gave you a few things to think about as you refine your communication skills with parents. Good Luck!