Former diplomat, Barbara M. White once said, “Building trust is a process. Trust results from consistent and predictable interactions over time.” This is a statement that we must keep in mind as we interact and converse with the parents and guardians of our students. Effective communications with parents are dependent, in part, on the level of trust between teachers and parents. If you have developed trust with parents, the information you give them will be taken at face value. If no trust exists, parents may put every statement you make “under the microscope.” If you want to have exceptional conversations to improve the teamwork between home and school, consider building trust first with your students’ parents and guardians.
How do you do this? First, build a positive image of yourself! While it is important that your school has a positive image, it is as important for you to be seen in a positive light as well. Creating this image starts before the first day of school. Consider calling the parents or guardians of your incoming students. Introduce yourself and ask about them and their child. This will pay dividends in the future.
You can also make a huge impact at open house or back to school night. Make sure families and students feel welcome as soon as they walk into your classroom. Greet them warmly. Find time to talk with them. Try to make them feel special. Find common ground. Maybe they spent their summer at the cabin and so did you. It could be that the dad is a baseball coach and you are too. While these things may seem small, connections are the basis of relationship building.
During the school year, communicate during the good times (not just through the struggles.) Touch base for no reason. Let parents and guardians know that you care how their child’s school year is going, that you are open to feedback and interaction, and that you are invested! Ask what they think is going well and offer assistance as you see fit. It is also an excellent idea to communicate for positive reasons. Call, email or send a “snail mail” postcard with specific praise for their child. Let parents know about small successes, little increments of growth or positive behaviors you have witnessed from their child. Parents and guardians will remember this if you have to later call with “not so great news.” They will appreciate the balance.
If a parent communicates with you about a concern, LISTEN actively to their concerns to understand their perspective. Continue to cultivate positive relationships with consistent and predictable interactions. Make sure you follow up. Set a calendar reminder to check back in a week or two after a solution has been implemented. Also, remember, some parents and guardians just want to be heard. Not everything requires action or a solution. Take the time to listen.
Popular author, Steven Covey once said, “Trust is the glue of life. It’s an essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Remember this as you work to build relationships and effective communication with parents and guardians.
Looking for more tips on how to effectively communicate with parents, explore Learners Edge Course 859, Parent Trap: Achieving Success with Difficult Parents and Difficult Situations:
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