In this post, The Present Tree, discuss thoughts on the importance of teacher-parent relationships, and offers some top tips to ensure that both teachers, and parents are making the most of their relationships.
With the end of the academic year upon us, it is a good time for reflection. Next year, students may have different teachers, so it’s important to understand how to go about making a positive impression. The first contact between a teacher and a parent, in many ways, is the most important, as this is the time a rapport is built and trust can start to develop.
A child’s academic success is greatly enhanced when teachers and parents are partners in the process. More specifically, there’s sufficient evidence to show that positive communication between parents and teachers can help improve academic performance.
But both need realistic expectations, for each other and themselves. It’s only natural that certain things are expected to happen. Parents will expect teachers to instruct students and to guide their learning so they can have success. But teachers also have expectations, they wish for parents to support the instruction and learning that happens in school, at home. They also each have expectations for the child/student, which they share in common.
So, what can you do to help these relationships blossom and keep teacher-parent expectations on the same page?
Well, firstly it’s worth saying that a smile goes a long way, especially when greeting each other. It makes a difference, especially as most parents only occasionally interact with teachers, so make sure that the majority of your encounters are positive, warm, and friendly.
Learn their names! For parents this is easy, but teachers might want to make the effort of learning parent names. This can have a profound impact upon ensuring the relationship is a positive one. Learn how they like to be addressed (By their first name?) and how to pronounce them correctly.
Could teachers go one more and send out parent surveys? Two to three weeks after school starts, why not engage and touch base with parents by sending a parent survey home? It could ask questions such as:
- -What was your child like as a baby?
- -What are your child’s strengths and weaknesses?
- -What does your child do in his spare time?
This information can help teachers get to know each student as a person and learner, as well as enhancing their relationship with the parents. You will probably find that even though parents are just as busy as teachers, they eagerly take the time to write as much information about their child as they can.
Another top tip for parents is – don’t ambush the teacher during the morning rush. If there are issues to discuss with a teacher, arrange an appointment to talk after school.
Go for the quick wins, perhaps an end of term gift? At the end of terms, like right now, parents and students up and down the country are buying gifts as a thank you for their hard work. Teachers work an average of 60 hours a week running around and educating children, so it’s important that students and parents show their appreciation for the person who has spent the best part of a year encouraging and teaching.
Many kids show appreciation for their teachers through a variety of different presents, whether it’s chocolates, or flowers. Whilst these are lovely, why not look at buying something a little more unique such as tree gift to reflect a personal meaning, or a new personalised coffee mug? Teachers won’t want endless boxes of Thornton’s Continental Chocolates or Cadbury’s Milk Tray.
Share successes, not just problems. Instead of waiting for an issue to crop up, speak to parents and teachers. Building a relationship with each other where both successes and opportunities for improvement are shared allows teachers and parents to work as a team. Classroom technology in this day and age can allow parents to track their children’s assignments, grades, and in-school activities remotely. This empowers parents to have a more comprehensive understanding of their child’s day, rather than having to settle for a “fine” when a child is asked how their day was.
But when there is a problem, this is where the good relationship that’s been worked on so hard to establish pays off. Both teachers and parents want the best for the student. If a child carries home a tale of teacher meanness or unfairness, parents should maintain a neutral stance until more information is given. Parents shouldn’t talk negatively about a teacher in front of kids. Instead, parents should email or call the teacher and ask politely for the teacher’s point of view. At the end of the day, they’re both on the same team. There is no need to be aggressive or defensive, the teacher-parent relationship should be kept intact. When both a parent and teacher stay focused on a problem, be it a child needs more practice with a skill, or even something more concerning like an attitude problem, things can usually be worked out.