For most classroom teachers besides preparing engaging lessons and activities, there is one very important thing they had to prepare during each upcoming school year. And yes — you guessed it — better communication and collaboration with parents. Sure a lot of teachers do everything they can to strengthen the parent-teacher communication, plenty of them admit that they’ve failed at establishing an effective strategy for communicating with parents. That’s not to say they didn’t try. Teachers have said that they did have the right goals and intentions — heck some even came up with the perfect method, but at the end of the day many of them didn’t have a clear vision for what an effective communication would look like.
A Strong and Positive Parent-Teacher Communication Is Necessary
A positive and effective relationship between parents and teachers is imperative for the best interest of the students. Strong parent-teacher communication throughout the year is essential for the student’s overall academic success and well-being. Furthermore, it helps teachers and parents to work together to support a student’s learning and success. Parents can provide teachers with insights about his or her children especially the strengths and weaknesses, which the teachers can utilize to form better relationship and communication with the student. There have been many reports that reiterate that children whose parents actively participate in their education have a better chance to excel in the school you have chosen for them.
Here are three steps for teachers to establish an effective and positive parent-teacher communication:
- Be Transparent and Determined
Today we live and work in a world surrounded by technology and where information is available and accessible to anyone. Many school districts allow parents to access assessment portals online where they can look up their kids’ data profiles, report cards, and even see their grade books get updated in real-time. This is extremely useful and it demonstrates how technology can be leveraged to increase transparency in a bid to improve parent-teacher communication. But this doesn’t mean that the parents know everything. So, there should be some form of direct communication with the parent and teacher. Despite the fact most districts offer parents opportunities to keep track of their kids’ education, a 2017 study conducted by Learning Heroes, a nonprofit organization reported that 86% of parents relied wholly on report cards for their children’s’ educational progress. What’s more concerning is the fact 9 out of 10 parents surveyed assumed that their children are performing above the average, which is unfortunately not the case according to the collected data.
Teachers should set realistic targets for transparency and encourage parents to look into their children’s education. Progress portals and sites are widely available. Teachers should request parents to get in the habit of checking these portals and websites through the use of links and reminders online or letters sent directly to homes, and demonstrate accessing them in parent-teacher conferences. Some teachers also encourage students to remind their parents to visit the portals and sites frequently. Strengthen parent teacher communication well.
- Use Comprehensible Language
During any kind of communication, teachers should use informal language. You’ve to keep in mind that though many parents have college degrees, not everyone is familiar with educational jargon. So if you use a word whether in writing or while speaking and the parents have to look up a specific word in the dictionary to find its meaning, you can rest assured that you’ve failed to effectively communicate. We recommend you use simple, easy-to-understand language, short sentences during all written communication. Be direct and always be respectful and show appreciation for parents. Students come from various cultural backgrounds so be sensitive to cultural differences.
- The Parents Are Your Partners.
It’s not uncommon to see teachers sometimes lose sight of what they want to communicate with parents and even sometimes students. Effective and positive communication is not all about updates and reminders; it’s a two-way process. A communication can only be effective if it helps in nurturing a mutually beneficial relationship. So teachers should remember not only to send information but facilitating channels that empower parents to respond easily. Phone calls, emails, and messaging applications all work well. Sending biweekly or monthly newsletters about the student’s overall performance and educational activities also work great.
As we are living in a multi-cultural and globalized world, sending SMS messages with translation features will overcome any language barriers hence fostering a much stronger and productive relationship between the teachers and parents. This approach not only starts conversations, but it also sends a message to parents that you do care about students and what happens in the classroom.