Keeping the lines of communication open between teachers and parents is the key to unlocking a wealth of support and favor that will most certainly increase student success. However, the relationship between teachers and parents is often a tenuous one. How and when should teachers contact parents in regards to student behavior issues?
As a precursor to contacting parents, be sure that you have a set of clear expectations for students posted in your classroom. This gives students a visual reminder of the rules with no question about what is expected. You might also want to send a copy of those rules home at the beginning of the school year for parents to read and discuss with their children. Start on the first day of school! This lays the groundwork for you and your students’ parents to be on the same page.
Next, make parents your partners! Start the year off on a positive note by contacting each parent within the first week or two to praise their child. You may want to try ClassDojo Messaging for this! This will help you build a positive rapport with parents, which they want! Traditionally, parents only receive communication about their children when there is a problem. Parents don’t like negative surprises. Turn the tables and pleasantly surprise them! Build a positive classroom environment and culture of respect by bragging about students to those who love them most. The amount of support and cooperation you will receive following these acts will be astounding!
In the case of a student who is repeatedly making poor choices, he or she should consistently receive the consequences listed in your behavior plan. A grace or warning period is traditionally granted before consequences are given. Every school setting has a different protocol, so it is important to be stay on the same page as other teachers.
Behavior that is consistently impeding the student’s learning and disrupting the learning environment is unacceptable and must be addressed. Behavior that is deliberately aggressive and malicious toward other students cannot be tolerated. Parent communication about the student’s behavior choices is often effective when trying to curb or curtail the behavior. If the unwanted student behavior continues, repeated parent communication or a referral to administration has proven to be effective.
If you’ve already shared positive feedback with parents previously, sharing negative student behavior becomes more impactful and more deeply understood by parents. Start by expressing gently your concerns over the poor choices being made by the student and provide concrete details. This puts you in the role of the supportive teacher who only wants success for the student.
Choosing the best means of communication to a parent is often situational. Phone calls seem to be the time-tested favorite method of contacting parents. Many parents use technology daily and prefer emails. However, some parents do not have a consistently working phone number, or Internet access, so written correspondence would be the most appropriate. Many educators use student agendas or planners as a communication tool with parents. Some teachers even allow parents access to their personal cell phone numbers so that they may communicate by text messaging.
The use of ClassDojo as a means for parent communication is also very effective, if parents have any internet access at home. In fact, if you use ClassDojo as a behavior management tool in your classroom, parents can create an account that allows them to view their child’s behavior progress and receive messages from teachers. ClassDojo’s Messaging feature is extremely effective, convenient, and free. Parents love ClassDojo because they receive instant feedback during the work day, and are more involved in their child’s school life.
There is no handbook on parent communication. However, if parent communication is frequent and positive, it will play a large role in the success of their child in your classroom. Your proactive behavior in the realm of parent communication sets the stage for supportive attitudes and smoother communication throughout the school year.