It’s never been easier engaging parents, but why aren’t we doing it?

When I first started teaching, I would only reach out to parents when their children were not doing what was expected of them — whether that was academically or behaviorally. I realized much later that I was overly concentrating on “troubled” or struggling students, and unintentionally paid less attention to students performing adequately or exceedingly well.

I eventually decided to send students home with positive notes of encouragement, commending them on their great work and behaviors. One student came in the next school day to tell me he was punished when he told his parents he had a note from his teacher. His parent apparently jumped to the conclusion that something bad happened, as they had never received a positive letter from a teacher before.

Parents want to be kept in the loop, and we as educators should be finding more effective ways to partner with them. The best relationships between teachers and parents that I’ve seen are ones formed on regular communications. In mentoring other teachers, I recommend they find out the best way each parent would like to be communicated with before school starts.  In addition to that, I suggest teachers try to send home positive messages more often than “needs work” or developmental ones. It helps build the basis for a solid relationship, so that parents and teachers can work together and help students succeed.

I also recommend teachers use a communication tool that makes the most sense for their classroom environment and dynamic. Some parents prefer handwritten notes, others email, and a number of teachers are trying out the new ClassDojo Messaging tool. No matter your method – I always recommend enabling two-way conversations, encouraging parents to respond and better understand how they can help inside the home. In creating this environment of more frequent communications, teachers always seem to find their students perform at a higher level with more enthusiasm — and that’s an outcome everyone aims for.