While schools are phasing back with the pandemic still lingering, parents are super on edge when it comes to their children’s safety. Interaction with these parents is essential and teachers need to be careful about how they go about handling this communication.
4 tips to improve your interaction with parents
Building a smooth communication system with parents is a process. It takes time to form relationships that are trusting and cooperative, but there’s no doubt it’s worth the effort.
Here are 4 steps you can take to improve on communication:
Build a foundation of trust
You can’t begin to form healthy relationships with parents without a level of trust. Don’t be afraid to talk on a more personal level with your student’s parents. Although there is an expectation for professionalism, talking about interests outside of the school environment will help your parents to ease up and feel more comfortable with you.
For a parent to trust you, you need to give them a good reason to believe that you have their child’s best interest at heart. If a student is absent from school, it’s a good idea to phone up their parents and check in on them. This shows that you’re not just interested in your learner’s academic results, but care for their general well-being – exactly what a parent needs to know during a time like this.
Set aside specific times that you’re available
To ensure that your work life and personal life are kept separate, give parents specific times that your attention is available for them. Send home a newsletter or an e-mail that provides them with your appropriate contact details, and let them know when they can get a hold of you. Just make sure you are actually available to them during those times.
Setting a standard from the beginning is necessary. Be straight forward with your parents and let them know that your intention is to keep them in the loop. If they know that you intend to be transparent with them regarding their child, they not only feel reassured, but they can’t be surprised if you approach them with any concerns.
A parent would rather know of small issues earlier on when they can be addressed, than be surprised in a report card at the end of the term. It’s also important that you have a game plan already thought out when approaching the parents. They don’t just want to know that there’s a problem, but want to know how to go about dealing with it.
Ask questions and then listen
Don’t just talk about a student’s academics and school activities. Ask about their hobbies and any other passions they might have. You can reassure the parent that you’re paying attention by asking follow-up questions. Often a parent also wants to feel heard.
Listening to what a parent has to say can reveal a lot about a learner’s family life. There’s nothing worse than a teacher assuming a home situation. Be mindful about the fact that not all families look the same, and approach any concerns you might have with sensitivity.
Communicate with your student’s parents regularly. The more you are in contact, the more natural communication will become, and parents won’t stay on high alert. Make sure you aren’t only giving negative feedback, but are sharing positive reports of your students too, looking out for opportunities to give praise where it’s deserved. Keeping these standards in mind will not only contribute to parents feeling more at ease, but will make sure the ‘teacher life’ is a lot easier on you.