When I first began my career as a teacher I just knew I was ready for EVERYTHING. My motto: "Bring on the world!" And I truly did feel like I was successful in many areas of teaching. But I wonder now what the parents of my students may have thought about me. I sure thought I knew a great deal about them.
I often had awful thoughts about parents- why they couldn't change their child's behavior, or what made them such helicopter parents, etc... And although I had these thoughts, I still did relatively well communicating with parents. But it took years of teaching, and becoming a parent myself, to learn how to develop super strong parent-teacher relationships. No longer am I "above" parents and more knowledgeable than they about their own child.
I've learned quite a bit over the last 11 years about parents, teaching, and parent-teacher relationships. I now believe it is one of the most important aspects of education and is a strong factor in student success. So, check out this list of 6 ways that YOU can ROCK at building parent-teaching relationships.
6 ways to ROCK at building parent-Teacher relationships
1. Start on Their Side
One awesome thing about teachers is that most of us tend to be very helpful. And sometimes we like to be helpful in ways that might actually hinder parent-teacher relationships. From year to year, your students' previous teachers will attempt to help you understand more about the students and their families. You inevitably begin the year with preconceived notions about the students and/ or the students' parents. This is your friendly reminder to let go of those notions! Start the year on the parent's side and get to know them on your own, leaving previously shared thoughts behind for the time being. Meet families for "Getting To Know You" interviews before the year begins (or within the first few weeks) and start fresh!
2. Make yourself available
Keep in mind that as a teacher, your hours are not necessarily convenient for parents. In addition to being a parent, they may have long work hours that do not coincide with our schedules. Instead of limiting them to YOUR conference time, provide multiple times and days from which THEY can choose- early before school, during lunch, after school, Saturday morning (GASP!).
3. Gain perspective!!
If you are not yet a parent, you may have a more difficult time understanding parents' desires for their children, or the reason parents do some of the things they do (or don't do). But if at all possible, try gaining some perspective. Think about these things:
4. Remember- Their child is their Whole world!
There's not much more to add to this... Every child means the world to someone. Keeping this in mind and showing the parent that you truly believe this will leave them trusting you completely. Click here to go to several AWESOME printables that will help you stay grounded and focused in your classroom.
5. Communication is key
6. Smile and go the extra mile!
Finally, and perhaps most important, simply smile and go the extra mile! When a parent steps into your classroom at the most inopportune time, simply smile and give them the impression, at the very least, that you truly care about what they need. Invite them in to be a part of your learning community. Share the small things here and there that make their child special. After all, we get a very large chunk of their child's life. Let's reassure parents that their children are in the best of hands.
Welcome! I am Casey Watts- teacher, mentor, leader, mother, and wife aspiring to be much more!