Parent Communication for Teachers
Ah, parent communication. In my opinion, this is one of the most stressful parts of being a teacher, but also one of the most important! Having strong parent relationships is SO valuable and make a world of difference in your school year. Because I believe so strongly in this, I’m sharing some of my best tips on parent communication for teachers.
There are many different aspects to communicating with parents. There’s day-to-day communication about regular class business (homework, etc.). There’s communication about special class events and volunteer opportunities. Then, of course, there’s communication about student performance. If we aren’t properly communicating with our parents about all these things, our students often won’t be as successful! Even if parent involvement is low at your school, there are still steps you can take to ensure that you reach all your parents.
Parent Communication for Teachers
Decide on the Best Method of Communication
The first thing you need to do to improve your communication with parents is decide on the main method of communication you will use. Before you decide this, consider the main demographic of your school. Do the parents at your school use email? Do the majority have smartphones with the ability to download apps? Would paper communication be more convenient in most cases?
Personally, I think it is best for teachers to use a mix of different types of communication to make sure they are reaching all parents. If you mainly communicate through an app, consider also sending home a weekly or monthly newsletter with important information. That way, you are still communicating with parents who don’t use or regularly check the app.
Options for Methods of Communication
- A parent communication app: popular ones include Remind, Class Dojo, and Bloomz.
- Weekly or monthly parent newsletter
- Communication folders
- Phone calls
- Regular parent conferences
Decide on one main area of communication; however, I personally think using ALL of these is the best method. My main method was through the Remind app, but I still used all the other methods as well.
Using a Newsletter
Newsletters are a great system of parent communication for teachers! Newsletters ensure that parents receive a paper copy of any important information they need to know. This is perfect for those parents that aren’t big on technology.
Newsletters should be sent home weekly or monthly. How often you send it can depend on your class – do it however much you feel is necessary. Newsletters (whether monthly or weekly) should include:
- Upcoming school and class events
- Volunteer opportunities
- Important announcements
- Student homework/what students are working on
- Your contact information
- Anything else you want to communicate to parents
Teacher-Parent Communication Folders
Having students keep a specific folder for parent communication is a great way to keep all that communication organized and easy for parents to find. You can choose to send these folders home daily if necessary, though I personally think weekly is ideal. This way you don’t overwhelm parents with having to check a folder every single night.
My teacher-parent communication folders (envelopes that were used school wide) went home every Thursday and included all graded papers, handouts, and important information. Then, they were emptied and signed by parents and returned on Friday. I would keep these for the week and stuff them before handing them out again.
Communication folders are a great way to keep all teacher-parent communication organized and in one place. If parents know they go home every Thursday, they know to make sure to check it each week so they don’t miss anything important!
Raise your hand if the idea of parent teacher conferences totally terrifies you! *Raises hand* I used to get so anxious anytime I had to have a parent conference. I would seriously avoid them like the plague, and would feel sick to my stomach anytime a parent wanted to meet with me.
Last year, though, I decided I needed to be more proactive with my communication with parents and took matters into my own hands. I decided to set up beginning of the year conferences with as many parents as I could. Within the first couple weeks of school, I held these conferences.
The purpose of this was to get to know the parents before any serious issues came up. It was non-threatening, an opportunity to learn more about the family, and helped establish a great relationship from the very beginning.
Guess what? As a result, I had the BEST relationships with parents I’ve ever had that year. I truly feel that those conferences made a huge difference! It helped parents feel more comfortable too, and gave them a chance to ask questions they might otherwise not have asked.
At the very least, I HIGHLY recommend conducting beginning of the year conferences. You can put a sign up out at meet the teacher night, or just outside your door on the first day. This will make a huge difference in parent communication for teachers!
Then, it’s up to you if you want to conduct regular conferences. I know some schools require it. Personally, I do beginning of the year and then as needed. But, of course, do what works best for you and your class.
During parent conferences, I suggest touching on each of the following:
- Overview of student’s grades, behavior, etc.
- Areas the student does well
- Areas for improvement
- Suggested plan for improvement
- Parent questions or concerns
- Schedule follow up, if necessary
Tips on Parent Communication for Teachers
Here are a few more things to consider when communicating with parents:
- Consider asking parents their communication preferences (email, phone, etc.) by sending out a parent survey early in the school year.
- If you see parents at dismissal, this can be a great time to quickly set up a conference with parents that are hard to reach.
- Keep all parent interactions positive – remember, these kiddos are their world! Even when an improvement plan is needed, focus as much as possible on student strengths.
- Remember – parents are our partners! We cannot be as successful without their support. Parent relationships are just as important as student relationships.