Today I am sharing my favorite five tips that I would recommend to any new or veteran teacher, as a way to establish a positive parent-teacher relationship from the first day of school.
Building strong parent-teacher relationships at the beginning of the year is something I put a lot of time and energy into. I find that if I create a positive relationship with my families from the first day of school, they are much more receptive and responsive to when I bring up a concern.
One: Self Introduction
Introduce yourself to the parent and the child, as early as possible. Last year my school started a “Meet and Greet” session. After our Institute Day, parents have the option to come into our classrooms, meet the teachers and drop off their child’s school supplies. This was a wonderful opportunity for a quick, positive introduction. There is no purpose other than to drop off the school supplies, and introducing everyone.
Most parents only stayed for about 5 minutes, but that was all they needed to feel relieved that their child is in good hands. :) Other families stayed for longer, taking brief trip around the classroom. Of course, I did not mind this, since the students were doing this out of excitement of being in a new classroom!
I printed off these notes and post them on each student’s desk so they know what to do.
Click HERE for your copy of this FREEEBIE!!!
Two: Rock Your Curriculum Night/Parent Night Presentation
Very few teachers I know love (or even like) this night. Having dozen of eyes staring right at you is enough to make any teacher start to sweat. Believe it or not, after 14 years of teaching, I have actually started to look forward to Curriculum Night. Like it or not, this is your one and only chance to share your personality, teaching philosophy, experience, and all those special projects you do, that make your students love coming to school.
During my parent night presentation, I make sure to highlight all of the engaging and fun projects that we will work on in every subject area throughout the year. Many of these projects request parental involvement and I want them to know what to expect in the upcoming months, to establish as much participation as possible.
During my powerpoint presentation, I share pictures of my Student Led Conferences from the previous year. I highlight the importance of WHY I use this approach and how it benefits the students and the parents so much more compared to the traditional 15 minute parents only conference. Since I am the only teacher at my school who uses this approach, I want to make sure my parents know the reason why I choose to host my parent teacher conferences in this manner.
Another project I talk about is our persuasive letter writing unit. I explain to the parents that they should expect to receive a very official letter from their child, requesting a few new items for their dream bedroom. I explain that project is part of our persuasive writing unit and creates an authentic and meaningful way for the children to experience the characteristics of persuasive writing, and how to effectively persuade their audience. I make sure my parents know that they will be asked to write a letter back to their child, in response to their “demands.” :)
Three: Assign Parent Homework
Yes, you read that right. As an added bonus, your students will get *really* excited when you explain that their PARENTS have homework! They won’t believe it! My parent homework is really just a parent info sheet, where I am asking different questions about what is important for me to know about their child.
I ask the parents to share about any medical concerns, such as food allergies, and their child’s strengths, weaknesses, and talents.
I love reading through these because I really get a clear picture of the parents’ expectations, as well as what they feel their child needs to improve upon and their strengths.
Four: Follow up with the Parent Homework
While most teachers I know assign some type of parent homework, or student information page, only a small percentage of those teachers actually do something with it, besides just putting the stack in a file folder in the file cabinet.
I photocopy each parent homework and, yes, place one copy in the file cabinet…but then put the other copy in individual student folders. Throughout the year, I use what they wrote for the parent homework as a ..
For example, one of my former students had severe anxiety around math and the parents mentioned it on the Parent Homework. As a result, it was not too alarming when I saw this student shut down during our math workshop in the first few weeks of school. Since I already had the previous knowledge about this child’s anxiety, I was able to whip out one of these brain freeze passes and introduce them with the child.
Five: Make time for small (and not so small!) learning celebrations!
When I see my students engaged in independent work or a group project, and they are really do well with something, I make sure to take a picture of it. Sometimes I will just take a picture of the work, other times I will take a picture of the child when they are engrossed in the activity.
I then send a quick, and I mean QUICK email to the parents, letting them know about their child’s success during the writing lesson, reading lesson, etc. It literally takes just a few minutes to attach the photo and send a quick note about what a great job their child did. I usually get a very grateful email back from the parents, thanking me for taking the time to share the good work their child was doing.
I also like to send home encouraging notes when I send home any data or assessments. I attach a half sheet of paper on top of the assessment and send it home.
Now, it’s your turn!
What’s your tip? How do you establish positive parent relationships at the beginning of a busy school year? I would love to hear from you!
I will randomly choose two people to win my Curriculum/Parent Night file to—don’t forget to include your email address!
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