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Establishing and Maintaining Effective Parent-Teacher Communications

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The necessity of maintaining a strong teacher-parent relationship is one of the areas prospective employers like to delve into during an interview, so take a few minutes to evaluate the tools you use to establish and sustain the communications that serve as the basis for that relationship.

Here are some guidelines to help you build the relationship right from the start.

During orientation (or the first week of school), send home a parent survey that asks about the child’s likes and dislikes and invites the parent(s) to voice their concerns and identify goals for the year. This information will provide you with invaluable information as you look to establish the relationship with the student as well as feedback from the parents that will help you start to form a goals plan for the first quarter. You can also use a survey a few weeks into the school year to obtain feedback from the parent(s) as to how the child is adjusting to his/her new class.

Ask your students’ parents how they would prefer that you stay in touch - through notes home, e-mail, or telephone - and then use those methods to communicate with them about their child’s status and progress. No matter which method you use, don’t focus your communications simply on areas or issues where the child needs improvement; discuss the areas where he/she is thriving or performing well. If parents feel you are constantly pointing out the negative, they will be less inclined to collaborate with you on trying to solve these issues.

Emphasize from the beginning that your classroom is open to parents, and invite them to volunteer to help out in class or during special learning centers or school functions.

Send home a newsletter every week (or as often as is feasible) that discusses current units of study and any reminders concerning upcoming field trips, special class events, or lists of supplies needed. Include tips for parents on helping their children in math, reading, and writing. As is age-appropriate, allow students to get involved in writing the newsletter, which would enable them improve their writing and editing skills.

Communicate with parents each week by sending home graded work and comments on classwork, behavior, and any other concerns in a folder or planner with reserved space for parents to write back. Folders could be signed and returned on a designated day of the week.

As you discuss this important issue with your prospective employer, be sure to voice your understanding of the need to create and strengthen teacher-parent communications. This will demonstrate your commitment to teaching and to working collaboratively with your students’ parents in fueling students’ growth and success throughout the school year.

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