Today, in schools across the country—from Kindergartens to high schools—there exists an extremely important relationship that doesn’t happen in the classroom, if it even happens in the school itself at all—the relationship between parent and teacher. Although long recognized as important through the decades upon decades of PTA meetings, fundraisers, sports, and other points of contact, the way in which the parent/teacher relationship operates has been changing in recent history, and only shows signs of continuing to do so as time goes on. So, as the relationship changes and grows, the method of communication must change and grow as well—except this has not really been happening.
In a 2012 study conducted by the National Household Education Surveys Program, 59 percent of parents of public-school children reported having never received a phone call from a teacher, and only 49 percent of those who had been contacted reported being “very satisfied” with the conversation that was shared.
Under any set of metrics, 49 percent of a group of just 59 total percent represents a failure that must be fixed in order to better improve the education of students and the loves of teachers and parents, as all these groups have the same goals in mind in the classroom—the best-possible education for their students/children. There are several ways to change and grow the parent/teacher relationship so that it better suits both the students and the current climate of expectation, and here are a few of the most well-regarded suggestions:
Set Clear Objectives
Start a dialogue at the beginning of the year and set your goals and objectives clearly. Whatever your goals are, keep them in mind when designing your plan, and make sure that parents are kept up to date with any changes that may arise over the year.
Ask parents what communication methods are best for them. Do not assume that parents are all the same. Using multiple communication methods allows parents to hear from you in ways that work for them.
Be Aware of School-wide Communications
Parents will not only be hearing from you—the school will be communicating with them about schoolwide issues as well. You also want to be sure that they are aware of the full range of resources, as parents may need help in ensuring their child gets the best education you can give them.
Measure Your Success
Pay attention to results. Don’t let it be an item on the checklist; make it a strategy for achieving your larger classroom goals. Whatever your plan is, open up the lines of communications with parents, and set them up to talk with their kids each day about their school day.
Ultimately, the connection between parents and teachers, despite the strain that may often occur—sometimes may frequently occur—is something that needs to be well-defined and worked on, like every other kind of relationship that we hold valuable in our lives, and now, more than ever, we need teachers who understand this and are willing to work with parents to build these relationships, just as they would with the children they teach.