No matter how thoroughly your degree program prepares you to become a teacher, you will find that there is nothing quite like the insight you will gain from hands-on experience. Many new teachers discover that talking to parents is harder than they expected. The trick is to assume the right mindset. Always remember that the parents know their child best, even though you work with that child every school day. Parents want the best for their kids, but they do not always know how to help them. Everyone will benefit when you start a friendly, collaborative relationship with all of your students’ parents right from the start.
Establish a Relationship
For parents, the start of a new school year means spending hard-earned money on school supplies and trying to convince their children that they really do need to do their homework. Meeting the new teacher might not be at the top of their priority list. Take the initiative to introduce yourself to the parents. Email is an excellent, low-pressure way to connect with busy parents. Send out a personalized email to each set of parents at the start of the year. You could write something like this, “Dear Mr. and Mrs. Crenshaw, I’m Ms. McCartney, Sarah’s new teacher. I look forward working with Sarah this coming year as we learn about fractions, American history and earth science. I always enjoy hearing from parents about their concerns and questions, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.” Having an introductory can help parents feel more comfortable about you from the start.
Respect the Parents
All parents are busy every day, regardless of whether they are CEOs or unemployed. They are professional parents, and it is a stressful job. They want to give their kids’ education the attention it requires, but they are also trying to juggle dozens of other responsibilities. Let the parents know you respect their time by being flexible. Do your best to schedule parent-teacher conferences for a time that is convenient for them, or at least provide a few different time slots that they can choose from.
Share Positive News
Some parents start to dread hearing from the teacher because it is usually bad news about the child’s behavioral issues or academic problems. It is difficult to build a strong, collaborative relationship with parents when they perceive you as being the bearer of bad news. Set aside a little time each week to write a few brief emails to some of the parents. Try to rotate the parents you write to each week. Give them a quick note about something good that their kids did in class that week. You might say something like, “I’m writing to let you know that Amanda put in extra effort to help her group finish the project on time. She’s developing strong leadership skills.” All parents enjoy hearing that their kids are doing well, and the student will use the compliment as motivation to continue working hard.
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