Parent- teacher conferences are quickly approaching this fall semester, and it’s time to organize student data and classwork to share with the parents. I enjoy conferencing with parents as it provides me with quality time to spend with the number one experts in my students’ lives. Although I ensure that I meet with every single parent/guardian of my students during conferences, I feel that teachers should be given more time for that 2-way communication throughout the school year. Communication is a vital aspect of the teaching profession, but it has become an invisible component of the success of a teacher.
Communication with parents is so important to the success of our students. I love the saying, “Together we can make a difference.” The most powerful message to students that we care and hold high expectations for them is through the positive teamwork of teachers and parents. But, it’s the 21st Century; although the century of communication and collaboration, it’s also the century of working parents, daycare, and inconsistent family routines. How often do you work tirelessly on an informative, interesting parent newsletter about the current and upcoming events in your classroom, just to receive a note later in the week, asking for information about what you just wrote about?? How often do you find a year’s worth of newsletters stuffed in a student’s backpack??
So it’s time for more personal forms of communication. Thinking back on previous encounters with parents, I will say the most interesting meetings that impacted my students occurred in personal settings: the emergency room at the local hospital, Little League games, local parks, and coffee shops. Meeting with the parents on their “turf” helps keep our communication lively, honest, and meaningful. Being politically correct is not as important as just sharing funny anecdotes about their child. Building bridges with parents in a personal setting can lead to a lifetime friendship that will impact their children for decades.
As teachers, communicating efficiently with parents is easier to achieve through our technology. My favorite form of immediate communication with parents is through texting (with their permission first). Cell phones are making it easier to talk with parents without playing phone tag with an answering machine. (Gone are the days when Mom hits the button on the answering machine and you cringe upon hearing your teacher’s voice…) I love having a classroom blog, which keeps the parents informed about the class projects and events with student-produced articles, photographs, and video clips. The school’s website provides me with a page to keep the parents informed about upcoming events and curriculum. I also use e-mail blasts to electronically send information to all the parents of the classroom. What are other forms of efficient communication do you use with your parents?
Being proactive and positive as we communicate with parents throughout the school year will maintain a trusting relationship that will build up the students’ self-esteem and maintain a positive attitude toward school. The voice of a teacher can get lost in a backpack through written notes and/or newsletters. We need to remember to make the invisible communication visible through creativity, collaboration, and technology.