Communication with the parents of students is one of the most important, if not THE most important components of student success. However, in between grading, paperwork, planning, copying, instructing, meetings, and tackling academic and behavior difficulties of students, I find it difficult to even squeeze in a restroom break! So where on Earth am I supposed to find the time to contact parents?
Communication with parents does not have to be formal or time consuming. It can be meaningful without you spending an entire plan period composing a perfectly-worded email or having a lengthy phone conversation.
Keep it brief. In many instances, parents are inundated with communication from teachers, school, and the school district. In my experience, for general school and classroom information, parents appreciate succinct messages from teachers. Get to the point and do it quickly. KISS (keep it simple stupid).
Printable, easy-to-fill-out forms are one of my favorite ways to communicate with parents when a phone call or email isn’t necessary. When a student has a minor behavior issue, consider using a form like this Behavior Alert from Floating Down the River. My favorite part of parent communication is when I can send a positive note home about a student. This editable positive note home from Classroom Freebies is easy to fill out. A Note From My Teacher from The Brown Bag Teacher can be used to communicate student accomplishments or struggles.
If you must contact parents by email or phone, keep the conversation focused on the area in which the student has the greatest need for improvement. Discussing multiple areas of need in one conversation can overwhelm parents and the teacher. Some questions to use when deciding what to say to parents: In what area do I want the student to improve? What am I doing in class to help the student improve? What are some resources I can share with parents to help the student at home? If you have additional concerns, you can save them for another conversation. Update parents as needed with concise messages.
Preparing templates for written notes or emails can speed up the process. Throughout the months of September and January I send home detailed, positive messages to the parents of each of my students. These are composed using a template of my own creation. I spend less than 10 minutes per student composing meaningful letters to parents. If this sounds like too much work, choose students worthy of praise.
Effective and efficient parent communication can be a powerful tool in achieving student success. How do you communicate efficiently with parents?
Author: Erin Randolph has taught elementary school for ten years. She lives in Olathe, KS with her husband, four-year-old son, and two-year-old daughter.
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