Teacher’s communication and interaction with the parents of students is an inevitable responsibility and undoubtedly, one of the most important elements for strengthening school and its performance. Therefore, teacher’s communication with parents should be so effective that they get influenced and feel satisfied that their child is learning under a smart teacher. Experienced teachers stress the importance of communicating with parents and families, but good communication between parents and teachers will not just happen. It requires work and special skills such as good listening techniques, tact, kindness, consideration, empathy, enthusiasm, and an understanding of parents-child relationship.
Teachers should not wait for parent-teacher conference to begin communicating with parents. Effective teachers start communicating with parents at the beginning of the school year. This will be a major investment of time, but one that will pay off in the long run.
Send a letter of introduction to parents. It does not need to be personal, just an overview of what you think the semester or year will look like, an introduction of yourself, and a general invitation to the parents to be involved in your classroom. Make sure to include how parents can best get in contact with you and encourage them to feel free to do so. If you can find out from the students (this is something you should include on their information sheets) what their parent’s last names are, it is nice to use a computer to put “Dear Ms. Samson” at the top instead of “Dear Parents or Guardian”. It is also a good idea to send these letters through the mail rather than the black holes of students’ backpacks and lockers.
Invite parents to your classroom. In most schools, there is an open house near the beginning of each year or semester. Take full advantage of this and share your expectations with them. Invite them at other times, too. Invite them to hear sudents’ presentations or performances. Have students organize a night at the end of the year to showcase their work and have little party for their parents.
Use progress reports effectively to report students’ progress to parents. While it is much easier to simply average grades and write “85” on a progress report, parents will appreciate it much more if you add a few sentences at the bottom. These should always include some good things before any bad ones. “Sam has turned in almost every assignment and is making good progress, but he did not do quite enough to prepare for his presentation on global warming. We will be working on research skills before we begin our next unit.”
Language and culture will effect the lens through which parents view school in general, and your class. Therefore, it is essential that you have a good understanding of the language differences and the culture of your students’ families. Language, how it is used, and mannerisms will contribute to complexities of the communication process in working with parents. In many instances, language cannot account as well as how a culture communicate within its own society. For example, different cultures can have different concepts about time (e.g. punctuality), authority, tone of voice, or competition. Likewise, non-verbal message expressed through touch or gestures, facial expressions, and personal space can have different meanings in different cultures.
Schools should develop a written parental involvement policy that must include a parental involvement plan. The plan must provide opportunities for participation of parents with limited English proficiency, parents with disabilities, parents of migratory children, economically disadvantaged parents, parents with limited literacy, and racial or ethnic minorities. Through this plan, teachers should be told on how to communicate with different parents. These programs, activities and procedures will be planned and operated with meaningful consultation with parents, teachers, administrators, and community representatives. The plans must be updated periodically to meet the changing needs of parents and schools as well as in a format and language readily understood by parents and school personnel. The plan must
i. hold an annual meeting to inform parents of the school’s involvement, requirements and explain parents’ rights to be involved;
ii. Offer, whenever practicable, a number of meetings;
iii. Invite parents to attend informational sessions regarding the curriculum, forms of assessment used in the school, and student proficiency level expectations;
iv. Give parents opportunities to make suggestions and to participate as appropriate in decisions relating to the education of their children.