Teaching Tip: Communicating with Parents

Communicating with parents is a powerful tool for increasing student performance and improving student behavior. Parents will welcome your efforts to keep them informed and can be a valuable support to your teaching goals. Don't just rely on scheduled parent-teacher conferences. Here are some things you can do beyond these conferences.
  • At the beginning of the year, send home a note in which you clearly explain your goals and expectations. Inform parents how they can contact you if necessary.
  • Write comments on students' work with suggestions for how parents can help their child improve his/or her work.
  • Work with your students to produce a weekly newsletter that summarizes what happened in class during the week and what's coming up. In addition to being a form of communication, the newsletter reinforces writing skills and teamwork.
  • Be proactive. Don't wait until something becomes an enormous problem. Alert parents of potential concerns. Don't forget to note positive things when you do so. A good rule of thumb is that any communication with parents should be a lot more positive than negative. Also, be sensitive to cultural differences in your communication.
It is also helpful to have parents involved in school activities. Encourage parents to join parent-teacher organizations such as the PTO or PTA, and a booster club if there is one. Also encourage parents to volunteer as tutors, library aides, and the like.
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