Building positive relationships with parents is extremely helpful to make your school year run smoothly. There are times when a phone call is the best method to communicate with parents. However, there are other quick, effective ways to make sure you focus on the positive things that are happening with your students. It’s so easy to put off communication until there is a problem or until it is mandated (report cards, etc.) If you have strong relationships in place, when problems do arise, they are so much easier to handle. I know we all agree that positive parent teacher communication is important, so let’s dive in to five ways to get it done.
Text messages are a quick and easy way to communicate with parents. I like to take a quick photo of the students when they are doing something that helps them make progress on whatever goal they are working on at the time. Parents love the surprise notes and photos. I have a chart, and I check off students’ names every time I send a message. This helps keep the messages balanced between students. Students know that I’m sending their parents a message, and they are always excited to let their parents know one is coming.
A weekly email helps keep parents up to date on all that is happening in the classroom. It is a great way to let parents know how they can help at home. In addition, I try to send several “surprise emails” throughout the week. I do not let students know about these emails. The intention is to communicate a specific, positive action from the child. Like the text messages, I keep track of these to make sure that they are balanced among the students.
Writing a note in a student’s planner is great for parent/teacher communication for a number of reasons. First, most of my parents sign their child’s planner each night. I can be pretty sure they will see the note. Secondly, the students will see me write the note, so they will get immediate feedback. Thirdly, it is quick and easy. If I’m really in a pinch for time, I will put a fun smelly sticker on the planner and tell the child it is because they had an exceptional day.
I admit that I have strayed from using certificates in my classroom. That is until one of my students reached a Lexia goal. (Lexia is an online reading program we use in our district.) Once I printed out the certificate, her whole face lit up with pride. Since then, I definitely continued to print certificates. I also have some other versatile certificates like the one on the left. These are great for acknowledging just about anything. (You can check those out here.) The certificates make a great way to communicate to parents that their child was rewarded for reaching a goal.
Behavior Plans for Positive and Goals Parent Teacher Communication
Behavior plans combined with regular student check-ins have been the most effective way I have found to increase desirable behavior. Sometimes, the goal is simple like controlling the number of times a child blurts. Other times, they are more involved like being safe toward self and others. Either way, I always include a space for comments. Sometimes, I write a behavior that we discussed. However, most of the time, I use that section for behaviors that I would like to positively reinforce. Sometimes, the comments are unrelated to the goal, but they include a positive note for the parents.
No matter how you decide to set up your communication system with parents, the most important things to remember are to be sincere and be positive to the greatest extent possible. Focusing on the positive behaviors help build relationships which are critical when working together as a team. That way when you do have to communicate a problem, it is easier to solve together.
Please share any additional ideas you have for positive parent teacher communication. I’d love to hear them!
If you’re looking for other ways to build relationships, having morning meetings has worked wonders in my classroom. For some fun and free morning meeting ideas, click here.