Highly Effective Relationships with Parents: A Must Have for Academic Success
Great teachers foster strong and effective relationships with parents. These unions afford them the greatest weapon against low achievement and unruly behavior in the classroom. When parents and teachers work together to educate children, then significant milestones (closing the achievement gap) in the education system can be achieved.
When students know that you, as an exceptional teacher, are in constant New Recommendations for Teacher Training: The Well-Rounded Approach to Student Learning communication with their parents regarding academic matters, these student s tend to be more motivated to learn. I discovered this in my third year as an elementary teaching. I had a little boy who presented a major challenge in the classroom. He couldn’t pay attention to instructions for a minute without interrupting me or aggravating some other students. I often took away privileges, administered timeouts and buddy rooms breaks to no avail.
So I decided to arrange a conference with his mother in order to find a way to work together to help the child. I discovered that the mother worked two jobs and was unable to spend any significant time with her little boy. But I cautioned her that something had to be done because her child was failing and failing badly. In fact, he was close to getting dismissed from the school program because of his many visits to the principal’s office.
I told the mother if we worked together (encouraging and motivating him) we might significantly alters her son’s destiny. Concerned about her son’s progress, the mother quit her night job and concentrated on helping her son in several areas of academic weaknesses. For weeks, I kept in contact with her as we worked together. What happened was nothing short of a miracle. The child had made a 360 degree turn around and became a model student in class, both academically and behaviorally.
The purpose of teachers is to find ways to help students achieve and love it. Connecting with parents is the best way to realize this. We must let parents know that we have their best interest in mind when it comes to educating their child. Sometime this effort may take us beyond what is expected of us as teachers, but if we desire to be among the best and make a significant difference in the life of a struggling student, the investment is worthwhile.
Teachers, who are in the classroom just for the money, don’t really care about going the extra mile. They would rather concentrate on the good, well-behaved students. Such teacher’s do only what is expected of them. But the thoughts of exceptional teachers are always on their students, whether they are at work or taking care of personal business on the weekend.
Strategies for Developing Strong Parent Relationships
Establish Constant Communication
Our job in educating children begins with developing a constant communication cycle with the parents. We can do this in several ways. We can make phone calls, write letters or send emails. Phone calls should be made in urgent or emergency situations, which may include severe discipline issues, school crises or snow days.
Letters should be mailed out to inform parents of important events such as teacher/parent conferences, staff development days and special school activities. Sending emails can include all the above, but takes a more personal tone, such as informing the parent that you are proud of her child’s progress or that you are excited about working together on behalf of his or her child.
Some teachers advocate making constant trips to a child’s home, but this approach can be very invasive in the beginning of a new parent/teacher relationship. It all depends on the demeanor of the parents as well as the atmosphere of the home environment. Many times the home situation is not conducive for teacher /parent interactions. Instead, parents and teachers can meet at a neutral place such as a library or restaurant if necessary.
Present your vision for the Child
Telling parents about your vision regarding their child makes them happy to have you as a dependable teacher. Parents are excited about teachers who have the best interest of their child in mind. When you tell them where you want to take the child academically during the course of the school year, you create positive expectations.
Parents are happy when they have a way to measure the progress of their children. Teachers who present to parents a vision plan for the child stands head and shoulders above everyone else. These are the type of teachers who make it to the peak of their profession and receive great rewards.
Discover Parent Expectations for their Child
You must not only present your vision for the child, but exceptional teachers always find out what parents want for their children. When we ask parents what they expect for their child to learn in our classroom, then they know that we are sincere about educating them. Parents have expectations for their children, but sometimes their expectations must be sparked by the teacher’s inquiry.
Since many parents are working and sweating hard to make ends meet, they don’t have the time to contemplate the goals they have regarding their children’s academic progress. But a meeting with the teacher at various times within the school year can ignite awareness.
Once you know the expectations of the parents, assure them that working together for the betterment of their child will pay dividends both academically and ethically.
We as teachers must not cast aside the importance of good parent/teacher relationships. I believe that this neglected area is one the main reasons that the achievement gap still remains to be closed. The old adage, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is no more apparent in our struggling school system here in America. All must become involved (teachers, parents, community) in order to create the quality of education needed for the future success of our children as well as the nation.