Establishing and maintaining parent partnerships can be tricky at times. Today, we are going to talk about how proactive communication is the key to establishing and maintaining parent partnerships.
Guest Post by Victoria Moller from Teach with a Smile
Let’s talk about the reasons why you want to maintain clear lines of communication with your parents.
1. It shows you are accessible!
Parents want to trust you and know their child is in good hands. Your classroom activities shouldn’t be a secret to your parents. Allowing parents access will build trust in you. It is important to have that trust established just in case.
2. You avoid having to answer the same questions from parents over and over again.
If you fail to communicate, a misunderstanding is bound to occur. Things that may seem obvious or implied to you aren’t to your parents. Let them know what is going on to avoid the many phone calls or emails you will have to make in order to clarify what is happening in your classroom.
Documenting is a way of holding you accountable for being prepared, as well as an expectation for your families to be “in the know” about school and classroom events. If you put it in writing you can’t have a parent ”pretend” to be unaware of what is happening. Don’t get me wrong, it may still happen, but at least you will have your documentation to point to and say, see I communicated that right here.
So, know that we are all on the same page about how important communication is, let’s have a chat about the best ways to communicate.
Remind is a safe online communication platform that was made specifically for teachers. Remind allows you to communicate with your parents as a whole or chat one on one without exchanging personal information. It is free and very easy to use. You can send out information by text, documents, pictures, voice recordings and links. Remind will also allow you to schedule out notices, attach forms, permission slips, send photos, and much more. You can find the top ten reasons to use remind here.
I encourage my parents to get their Remind notifications by text. This is important because most people read a text right away but may chose to put off reading an email or your weekly class newsletter. Remind has ready to print PDF’s for ways to use Remind, letter of consent for parents, communication in Spanish, and helpful tutorials. Remind also has a phone app. The app allows you to send and receive notifications on your iPhone or iPad. If this peaks your interest, check out the Remind YouTube page for Tutorials and additional information.
Shutterfly, is another form of communication that I use. Yes, you read that right Shutterfly. Many of you may think of Shutterfly as just a site to store and print photos but it so much more. Shutterfly also offers free and private share sites. You can create a free and private websites to share pictures, send group emails, create volunteer sign ups, communicate class news, create a calendar with important events, and have private discussions on the message board. Here is a snapshot of my site when I was building it.
My parents love it. One of the reason I love it is because it is so easy to use, I have my room mom run the site. One less thing for me to have to do! Shutterfly even has an app to make communicating with your parents even easier. I take class pictures of projects and activities for the day with my iPhone and I upload them using the Shutterfly app. Easy Peasy!
The last form of communication I want to share with you is my FREE weekly newsletter. I use my newsletter in a variety of ways. This is not your ordinary newsletter. It is a Teacher Time Saver! My newsletter acts as a behavior monitoring system, reading log, communication sheet, and class newsletter all in one. At the top of the newsletter is the daily behavior log. I use a clip system in my class. Each day as the students are packing up, they color in the day they had. If a child has had to move their clip down I communicate the reason for the clip change. I also like to write notes to parents if student have had an exceptional day as well. At the end of the week I collect these as documentation for behavior. For more information on how I run my clip system head over to the blog.
The next section is the reading log. We require 20 minutes of reading daily so this is the spot for parents to write down the title and author of the book their child read or to communicate if they chose to focus on reading high frequency words as part of their nightly homework.
The next section is a reminder of what is required for homework the day and their weekly responsibilities. On the top of the backside is my contact information both by email and phone as well as a way to schedule opportunities to volunteer in the classroom. Remember; always make yourself accessible to your parents.
In addition to that information, I have upcoming events, suggested activities, class want ads, and the weekly star student. All this information keeps parents in the loop. They feel comfortable and trust that you are giving them a glimpse at what their precious ones are doing while they spend their time with you.
I’ve also included a modified version for those special friends that cannot go the whole day without needing to have behaviors tracked and monitored. I just staple this version to the original copy of the weekly newsletter they receive.
I am so excited to share these resources with you. I hope they truly do save you time and help you keep the lines of communication open with your parents. These tools have helped me to establish partnerships with my parents enabling us to have a happy and productive school year.
Victoria Moller is a first grade teacher and has been teaching in the San Diego area for 15 years. She loves teaching the primary grades but her heart and soul is in teaching first grade. You can connect with her on her blog at teachwithasmile.com or via Instagram @teachwithasmile.