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Meet the Parents

Successful Parent-Teacher Partnerships Pave the Way for Student Success

Communication and trust help to set the foundation of student success. Yet, connecting with parents can be a challenge for many educators. But there are ways you can increase parent involvement, build meaningful parent-teacher partnerships, and stay connected long after your first Back-to-School Night has ended!

When interacting with parents, always consider how you would respond in their situation. Understanding is one of the keys to unlocking a successful relationship with your students’ parents. Efforts to reach your parents falling flat? Don’t give up when they don’t return your phone calls, try text and email to quickly update parents, or let them know when their student has done a great job or been helpful in class.

Other Ideas:

  • Find common ground with your students’ parents. If you show a willingness to learn more about your students from their parents, then they’ll be more willing to work with you throughout the school year. To accomplish this, open up to parents and listen to what they have to say. Show an interest in them, and they’ll return the favor. Unless there is a major behavioral problem or a moral issue at stake, you should be able to find common ground with parents—if nothing else, there is always your concern and caring for their child and your desire to help him and/or her succeed in your class and in life.
  • Get students to keep parents informed. Have them write and produce a print or online newsletter about classroom milestones, activities, and events. Be sure to include your contact information and any important dates or notifications.
  • Get to know your students. In the first week of school, send home a fill-in-the-blank letter in English and Spanish (and in other languages as needed) for parents to write to you about their son’s and/or daughter’s—strengths and weaknesses, hobbies and interests, and expectations for learning in the classroom. Since you’re asking the parents for input about their children—treating them as partners—they’ll be more willing to communicate with you throughout the year.
  • Invite students to attend parent conferences. Many educators find it helpful and use the opportunity to have the student included in parent-teacher discussions about their class behavior and performance.
  • Realize that while some immigrant parents are eager to get involved in school, they may not understand the American system, feel welcome, or may feel uncomfortable about their ability to communicate in English. Even if your school doesn’t have a dedicated Parent Resource Center, draw in and support the entire family unit at school. Use an informal after-school ESL course to bring students and parents into the classroom; or launch a series of classes and workshops to introduce immigrant parents to each other, to teachers, and to strategies for helping their children navigate the P–12 school system.
  • Struggling to reach parents who can’t take time off during the day, work nights, or are scared of the school? Make visits to homes an option. It may require some training, teaming up with another school staff member, and even stepping out of your comfort zone, but through home visits, you may learn a bit more about the lives of your students and their families. Try these quick tips: Offer alternative times—few parents will say no if you’re flexible; and if parents are uncomfortable inviting you into their home, meet at a coffee shop, a library, or even a park.
  • Try some creative community building among parents and families and your school. Tap into the power of your school’s PTA. Find parent volunteers willing to offer rides to parents without transportation so they can attend parent conferences and school events. Providing childcare at school during parent conferences and meetings may also draw in parents who otherwise couldn’t participate.

Throughout the nation, NEA educators are working closely with parents to ensure their students succeed. For more examples and resources you can use to make your parent-teacher relationships a success, visit bit.ly/1lbCRZI.

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Published In

1-Feb-16

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