Recently I was fortunate to witness a glimpse of the talent in my school as our teachers presented some of their best practices. I was inspired by the staff at how committed they are to building strong relationships with students and making an effort to connect with them. It is great to be a part of a staff so dedicated to making school a positive experience for kids.
The presentations led me to ask myself a few questions.
What are some other ways teachers can find out even more about kids in order to build those strong relationships?
How can these teachers get more support from parents?
How can teachers open a line of communication with parents that may last throughout the year?
Above is a link to something I used to do the first week of every school year. As students grow older, many parents become less involved in their children’s academic life. I will explain the process briefly and list the benefits I have experienced using this letter.
1. Near the beginning of school send home the above letter (making any changes you feel may be more suited to your classroom).
2. Ask that parents/guardians reply back using email if possible; if not accept anything.
3. Consider some type of an incentive to insure students do have parents write these letters (if you assign this – it should not be optional)
4. When emails begin to come in add parents to address book and add them to a group email list. ( This will help you communicate important info to parents – like important dates, assignments, notes…)
1. Your first communication with parents will be a positive one; they will appreciate your desire to get to know their child as an individual. This is a massive benefit when you may have to contact that parent later for a negative reason; the chances that they will be on “your side” and help you resolve problem will be much higher.
2. You learn a ton about your students! (sometimes too much) Parents will give you information about your students from a unique perspectives. They often have very astute advice regarding the best ways to teach them.
3. Most parents appreciate being kept in the loop and will use your emails to remind students to study or complete projects.
4. It is more likely for parents to be involved if we take the initiative and open that line of communication; many parents may be intimidated or just plain uncomfortable with schools.
5. Students become aware that there is a line of communication between you and their parents; sometimes that is enough to keep them motivated and focused in your class.
Please comment on this if you have tried anything like this and can add any insights or changes you might make to this process. Also, please let me know if you have questions of how to implement this strategy.
* I have to give credit to one of my education mentors, Claudia Swisher, for introducing me to this idea.