Five Ways to Build Great Parent Communication

As the first day of school quickly approaches, parents and teachers are already thinking about ways to make their students successful. A Cleveland City teacher committed to great parent communication reveals five tips for communicating for making parents the biggest stakeholders in the classroom.

By Andrea Phillips

Andrea Phillips teaches third-grade English at Blythe-Bower Elementary in Cleveland City Schools.

Teachers across Tennessee will be swinging into action in the next few weeks.  This year my goal is to create closer relationships with the families I teach. I want to reach out beyond open house and parent conferences.

I am preparing a list of some do’s and don’ts for myself:

Do listen with an open mind.

Sometimes parents might need to share horror stories about their own educational experiences, but you can always swing the conversation back to their student and the differences between your classroom and the one that damaged them years ago.

Don’t talk so much teacher talk.

As teachers we are used to talking about fluency data graphs and other specific data collecting tools, but they may not be the best choice to help parents contextualize their student’s learning progression.  Make the information you need to share accessible to the various education levels of your parents. Help them understand.

Do invite them into your classroom.

I plan on having a practice session for parents so they can see a model of what good reading tutors do to help their students meet individual goals. Parents want to help and they want to do it right; help them help you.

Don’t call or write only when students have misbehaved.

This is a common notion, but it is so difficult to make time for. This year my goal is two positive notes per student per month. That is a hundred notes for me, but I know as a mom how my child lights up when the teacher brags on her, so I am going to make it a priority.

Don’t say “my classroom.”

This one may border on the fringes of psychology, but it’s “our classroom.” It is our job, our children, our building. It may be semantics, but it shows that I know that I cannot do this alone. Education is a shared responsibility.

While there will always be challenges around scheduling and modes of communication, I am choosing to make this a priority because as both a parent and an educator I know how critical this communication is. I believe that involving parents, making them the most important stakeholder, can and will lead to greater student achievement.

Read even more Classroom Chronicles’ posts from Andrea.