Friday, January 18, 2013

Five Things to Consider When Contacting Parents

In the next few months, we will have some awesome guest blog posts for you.  I have added 6 hours a week of French lessons to my load, and so I will be less present than normal in an effort to take the time to master this important learning.  In an effort to help me out, I have had some amazing bloggers agree to guest blog for s here on Raki’s Rad Resources.  Today our guest blogger is Mary Baur from Artistry for Education.  She has some great tips for how to make parent – teacher interaction easier.  After you check out her tips, be sure to stop by and check out hsignatureer blog – Artistry for Education.



Contacting Parents (2)

I’m Mary Bauer from Artistry of Education. I have been teaching for twenty-two years in a diverse community, and I have had my share of conflicts with parents. I want to share a few things I have learned to help these relationships go more smoothly.

Be proactive. I start with a parent information form the first week of school. At the top is this sentence: “I believe that a parent is a child’s first and best teacher.” It sets the tone for the year.

Be positive. All families advocate for their children. They just may not approach us in the way we like at the times we like. All families want their students to be successful. We may define success in different ways. Someone who doesn’t seem to cooperate is probably just afraid.

Be predictable. When I transferred to the school where I teach now, I earned the reputation of working well with parents. “You answer our emails,” one parent shared with me. I make it a personal goal to respond to a parent within twenty-four hours. I make sure I am on time to parent meetings. I want parents to know they can trust me with their children. If I put off contacting the parent, the problem generally grows worse.

Be professional. It’s tempting to gossip in the staff lounge and speculate about family backgrounds. The more parents know they can trust me to keep their concerns private, the more they are willing to share with me information that will help me teach their child.

On the other hand, talking with the student’s previous teacher can give you good information to help you this year. Make sure this conversation is private and based on direct observations of the child and parent conferences.

Be prudent. I have had five or so parents in my career that made me uneasy for one reason or another. It is wise to invite another staff member to attend these conferences. Another person can be a buffer in a potential conflict or a neutral witness to what I share with the parent. If you do this, let the parents know who will be attending the conference so they don’t feel cornered.

The other side of this is inviting the parent to bring in someone he or she feels comfortable with. It is tough to receive difficult information without a support system.

While my career is certainly not conflict-free, I can see how the time I invest in communicating with parents helps everyone involved.


The Artistry of Education

Mary Baur is a third generation public school teacher who has been in education since 1987. She has taught elementary students full time for the last 20 years. She is also a freelance curriculum writer.