More than likely you are in the middle of the fourth quarter. Yay! We’re going to make it! You are staying current on grading and posting grades...BUT then it happens. The dreaded emails and phone messages about grades and how come parents weren’t notified earlier of a student’s poor performance. Yep, we’ve all been there. And more than likely we’ve all had circumstances like this unfold that boggle down our minds all weekend. Managing parents can be one of the biggest challenges in the world of education so let’s address ways we can help this situation in 4 easy steps.
Step 1: Weekly Communication: Newsletters, Friday Notes, IG Page
No matter what we do in life, communication is a huge component and teaching is no different. Whether you are a first year teacher or in your twenty-fifth year of teaching, you want to establish a communication system and routine that will work for you and not be too lengthy of a process.
Newsletters are a great way to share information with families so they know what is going on in your classroom and the school building. Keep in mind that when you begin to create your newsletter to keep it simple. You don’t want this one component of your week to eat up too much time so find a template that you can easily plugin topics and make your point. Plus, in this day and age of all the things we need to remember if you can keep your newsletter straight and to the point, then more than likely parents will recall what you wrote.
Friday notes are an excellent way to keep the lines of communication open while being able to speak specifically about a student. Type up 2-3 sentences about an overview of the week. Then, add 1-2 more sentences about strengths or areas of improvement for each specific student. Leave a comment space so family members can write back and I promise you that this will solve half of your problems. What’s great is that most of the notes can be copied and pasted so you really only have to focus on the specific details of strengths and weaknesses. Also, if you know what is coming up in your classroom, then you can type up those first few sentences ahead of time and just have to plugin those specific factors.
We live in a very digital world and the parents of most of our students are on some form of social media. Why not create a class Instagram account to share what is going on in your classroom. Make sure you set the settings to private so you can control who is following you, but why not make education a global experience.
Do you have to post every day? Nope. Just try posting once or twice a week and see how it goes. You’ll be amazed at how much parents love the fact that you are taking the time to share about their students and they can see firsthand what is being learned.
Step 2: Make the Phone Call
You’re not going to believe this, but in most cases when you have to contact a parent about grades, homework, or behavior they appreciate the phone call. Why? Because it shows you care and you want their child to succeed. Make the phone call. If you’re noticing something isn’t quite on track for a student, then it’s better to call than email or message through an app. Oftentimes when communicating digitally messages can be misconstrued.
One factor you do want to avoid when you do make the phone call is sounding accusatory. You don’t want families to feel they are to blame for the lack of success, so focus on if there’s anything you can do to help the student. Try suggesting systems or routines or maybe even a checklist to help the young learner establish solid study habits. Families will appreciate that you are willing to put in the time and go the extra mile. And don’t forget that it’s a-okay to call home for positive progress updates too.
Step 3: Establish Rapport
Rapport is clutch in everything you will do in your classroom. You want to develop a rapport with each individual student and his/her family. Some teachers are great at this and some just keep on teaching. Guess which teachers have smooth sailing at the end of the year when spring fever begins to set in? Yep, the ones that have the class rapport.
Take interest surveys, try a bedtime story via Zoom, or maybe once a semester offer a family game night. Your students will think you are the coolest thing since sliced bread that you want to do things with them and their families outside of school. I know that time is precious, but if you do something once a semester you will make a tremendous impact on your students. Plus, think of how much positive praise your parents will send to your principal. Who doesn’t LOVE that?!?
Whatever you decide keep it simple. You don’t have to spend money. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. If it’s an interest survey, then try to focus on each student’s interests throughout the school year. If you plan a family function, this can be done online so nobody even has to leave their homes. You’ve got this!
Step 4: Documentation
Document! Document! Document! In the introductory paragraph, I spoke about the parent that contacts you complaining about not being notified sooner. Well, this is where you can show your principal all the times you have reached out, but to no avail. Even when you make a phone call and nobody answers, be sure to document. If you send home a Friday note with no response, photocopy it with the date it went home and place it in the student’s file. As long as you are reaching out and documenting, then you are doing your part.
You should also have a journal of some sort. You don’t have to journal your whole day, but be sure to hit the key elements. Did anyone have a breakdown today? What do you think made the class so chatty today? How did centers go? Journal about any conflicts that may come up so if your principal or a parent reaches out you can flip right to your notes. If you can jot notes as things happen that’s great, but try to block out ten minutes after dismissal to get your thoughts down. Focus on the key events so you’re not giving a full dissertation on who cut whom in line.
Wow! Dealing with parents used to intimidate me so much because I always thought I was doing something wrong. Once I grew as a teacher, I learned to simply keep parents informed and DOCUMENT everything! Those two pieces to the puzzle changed my whole outlook on the dreaded parent phone call. I quit dreading them and started embracing them because this parent is taking the time to show concern for the child’s education.
Did you know…
We are so passionate about helping primary teachers that we are using our administrative experience and holding mock interviews to help teachers prepare. The feedback is incredible!
If you or a K-3 teacher friend you know is preparing to interview, then feel free to DM us on Instagram or email us at [email protected]. We would love to hear from you.
If you enjoyed this post…
If you enjoyed this post, then you’ll want to read this because you're ready to land your dream job!
And if you haven’t grabbed The 7 Habits To Avoid Teacher Burnout, then what are you waiting for? Spring is coming…you NEED this in your life.
We continue to support K-3 teachers, both new teachers, and veterans, on their journeys. If you are interested in joining and earning some of the EASIEST PD hours you will ever earn, then be sure to check this out. Feel free to contact us with any thoughts or questions. You can earn 60 HOURS in 1 year!
The Mission of Lesson Plan Toolbox:
Our mission at Lesson Plan Toolbox is to save K-3 teachers time and energy while providing resources and knowledge of 21st-century learning.
Until next week…