We know strong parent involvement leads to better learning.
Decades of research points to the fact that strong relationships between teachers, parents, and schools enhances academic performance and improves social-emotional health.
But what can new teachers do to build that foundational relationship? What steps can they take to appeal to parents who may be strapped for time, stressed, or just plain distrustful of schools?
In her course, “Establishing Parental Partnerships as a Framework for Student Success,” Kimberley Wagner, ELT instructor and member of the East Meadow TA, covers the ins and outs of staying in touch with families, no matter their circumstances.
Here, she shares tips for educators on how to build strong relationships with parents and guardians.
Be available to parents and encourage regular discussions. Share your email and/or phone number with parents. Explain that you are open to their feedback and make it clear that you want to learn as much as you can about their children so you can work in their best interests.
“Find ways to showcase the good things that are going on in the classroom,” Wagner said. Start off with positive notes and calls to parents. Consider adopting a parent-teacher communication platform so that you can share photos of activities or lessons. Include a personal note about what students learned and their reactions.
Open house and parent-teacher conferences are just two ways that you can welcome parents into the school. You can also ask for classroom donations, invite parents to chaperone field trips, and encourage parents to volunteer in the classroom. “Some parents might be intimidated about coming into the school so create low-stress ways for them to participate,” Wagner said. Look at ways to strategically involve parents and promote a sense of belonging in the school – studies show this benefits children and parents.
Once you’ve developed a good relationship with parents, and they can see that you’re not ‘out to get’ their child, they will be more open to your feedback, Wagner said. When you encounter challenging student behavior or discover a student is struggling, talk to parents as partners. Frame the problem as something you will work on together. Discuss possible solutions and decide which one to implement. In addition to being more effective, this united approach is also comforting to students, who feel safer knowing they have two adults working together to help them through challenges they may encounter.
ELT coursework is offered year-round and can be used for undergraduate, graduate and in-service credit as well as to fulfill Continuing Teacher and Leader Education requirements. For more information, go to elt.nysut.org.