Communicating with parents can seem overwhelming when you have enthusiastic goals for increasing attendance, improving test scores, and decreasing disciplinary issues in your classroom.
For example, when is the best time to call? Would it be better to text? What should I say first? The truth is, there is a different answer for every parent out there. Some parents prefer calls to email. Others may only ever answer a text message. At the end of the day, meaningful communication with parents starts with making a sincere effort. These ten tips will help.
1- Find something positive to say the first time you talk to a parent. Be genuine.
When connecting with a parent for the first time, consider starting with a positive note to build a solid foundation before having to report on their child’s poor behavior or to remind them to send money.
Your goal is to help connect parents with the activities and unique educational journey of their child, so they can be the best support possible. With that in mind, think about what a parent might need or want to hear.
Saying something positive comes in many shapes and sizes and doesn’t have to be a compliment if it isn’t genuine. Perhaps Mrs. Smith has done a great job of getting Johnny to school on time or maybe you can tell that Mrs. Smith has been helping Johnny with his math homework and it’s had noticeable results.
These are wonderful things to share with parents! Not only will parents feel like they are in the loop on what is going on at school, but if your communication is sincere and informed, parents will feel empowered to take part in their child’s education.
2- Be professional and courteous.
Begin all conversations, whether on the phone, by text or in an email with a thought towards professional communication.
- Check your surroundings for noise or distraction before making a voice call.
- Always introduce yourself clearly.
- Express the reason for your communication quickly.
- Listen with sincerity.
3- Keep records for compliance.
You never know when you might need a phone recording for unexpected compliance disputes. Custody cases, IEP documentation, and medication administration are some recurring reasons to document not only the occurrence of parent communication but the content as well.
SchoolStatus automatically logs and records all parent communication- making the maintenance of records easier and administrative oversight effortless.
4- Consult the data before you make the call.
Before you call or text a parent to discuss assignments, discipline, or even absences, scan the student information available to you and you will speak from a position of greater authority on the well-being of the student.
Absences in other classes, test scores, notes or files may reveal information about a student that pertains to your reason for contacting the parent.
SchoolStatus puts your communication tools alongside your student data - making every call informed and productive.
5- Give parents questions to ask their children.
Don’t assume students are sharing anything about class with a parent! Help a parent out!
Give parents a leg up by offering questions to ask about their child’s assignments such as, “Ask Jose about the web site he’s been designing” or “Have Helen tell you about the air pressure experiment we did in Physics today!”
Sometimes parent engagement just needs a jolt from asking the right question.
6- Don’t use language parents won't understand - talk like a human!
Don’t ever let education jargon be the reason for distance from a parent. Take a moment to remember that you are used to a long list of acronyms with which a parent may not be familiar.
7- Help parents understand new tech/teaching methods.
A lot has changed in the classroom since today’s parents were there. Especially with technology and math, many parents are left feeling unable to help their child with homework and test preparation. Directing parents to the right resources to educate themselves may be the difference between a parent feeling able to help their child with schoolwork or not.
8- Never hesitate to call- (the first call is always the hardest.)
We’ve all become fairly reliant on text messaging - but the truth is a phone call does wonders for connecting two people.
The tone and warmth of your voice, not to mention simply the effort of making a call - can help parents see your care and intention with their child. After all, we are all on the same team!
SchoolStatus makes calling parents easy with voice calling from your computer or an app for your mobile phone. Personal phone numbers remain private, and the record of communications are automatic.
9- Always be truthful.
This includes the good and the bad. Nothing will ruin a relationship faster than feeling like you’ve been misled or lied to.
10- Never forget that parents want what is best for their child.
You may not always understand why a parent says or does what they do, but it’s important to remember almost every parent wants what’s best for their child.
You won’t always see eye-to-eye with every parent. Conversations won’t always be easy (people tend to get more upset when they are uninformed or intimidated,- especially when it involves someone they love).
Nevertheless, move forward building relationships with optimism. Knowing that schools and parents BOTH want to see successful students should be the bedrock of your communication.
SchoolStatus is the only data analytics company that turns analysis into action. Through powerful reporting tools, automatic integrations, and customizable data points, educators easily identify students most in need of engagement. Then using the communication tools built right into the platform, instantly connect with guardians through calls, texts, or emails to reach families where they are. We focus on the data, so educators can focus on education. Contact us at schoolstatus.com, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @schoolstatusapp