Most teachers probably feel like they’ve got a million and one different relationships to manage at the same time. But even if you get on well with your colleagues and have established a strong bond with pupils, that doesn’t mean to say relationships between you and parents will be just as rosy.
The secret to building good relationships with parents and guardians is actually quite simple – communication. By reaching out to parents and guardians early on in the school year, they will feel much more comfortable and confident that their children are in good hands.
The first few weeks of term can be rather busy and somewhat stressful, so keeping on top of your workload is crucial. But if you can find an hour or two for contacting parents and guardians, you’ll thank yourself later on in the school year.
Here are some ways to nurture that all-important teacher-parent relationship.
Pick up the phone to parents at home
- For misbehaving students
It goes without saying that you’ll probably need to call home when a student misbehaves. This can be a difficult and confronting task for many teachers, but is usually absolutely necessary.
If you struggle with the thought of calling home about a wayward student, concentrate on their own learning and how the parent or guardian could potentially support this.
Chances are, parents will react badly if you suggest its a failing on their part. So, bring it back to what you’ve witnessed at school and how you can both facilitate improvement.
- For thriving students
Parent shouldn’t only hear from you when you’re unhappy with their child. Taking the time to celebrate effort and achievements is equally important and can have a favourable knock-on effect in the classroom.
Recognising when learners go over and above the minimum requirement has been known to change the culture in classrooms and improve relationships with students. Your own effort won’t go unnoticed by parents either, who will be proud as punch to hear about their kids’ achievements.
When making the call, be specific about the behaviours the student has shown and how they’ve had a positive impact on the rest of the class. Explain why you’re proud of them as well.
Look forward to parents’ evenings
Just like phone calls home, parents’ evenings often come with negative connotations, where parents will only hear about the bad things and go home with plenty of disciplining to do.
Obviously, there is a time and a place for pointing out where students are going wrong, which can be dealt with in a mild mannered, democratic fashion.
But another aspect of parents’ evenings, which is key to building strong relationships with parents, is to celebrate wins and successes.
This is much easier if you go into your next parents’ evening with an energetic and enthusiastic outlook. Emphasise to parents how much you care about their child’s learning and why you enforce high expectations. You may even want to showcase some of your teaching materials and get parents involved.
Do this and parents will go home safe in the knowledge that their kids are progressing. At the same time, you’ll have strengthened the teacher-parent bond.