New Teachers

communicate with parents

Sun Nov 03, 2013 4:04 PM

Hi everyone
I am a teacher candidate. I wondered How to communicate with parents when their child is challenge students?

Lili Zheng
lili zheng
2510 Activity Points

Wed May 07, 2014 4:33 PM

I am currently in a teaching credential program, and one of our teachers always tells us to communicate with the principal to describe the situation that is occurring in the classroom. It is good to have the principal on your side or knowledgeable of the situation incase the parent becomes very angry and wants to discuss the problem with the principal. This way the principal will already know about the situation and will not become blind-sided with the information.

Corrie Armstrong
Corrie Armstrong
490 Activity Points

Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:07 PM

Is always hard to let a parent know that a their child is a difficult student,but it is essential for you as a teacher to communicate this to them. You could schedule a parent-teacher conference with the child's parent and start of by letting them know of the positives first,then as the conference progresses, you tell them the situation you have encounter with their child and try to work with them to find a solution to the problem. Remember that communication is the key to success! Good Luck

ISAURA JEREZ
Isaura Jerez
3820 Activity Points

Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:31 AM

Some teachers I know send a note to every child's parents every grading period. They make a point of finding something good the students is doing and sending home a note to tell the parents about the student's success. That makes it easier later on if you have to contact a parent about other behaviors that are not so good.... They generally make or purchase special postcards or stationary to make it stand out and be something that could be "hung on the fridge".

For small things or falling behind on work, I generally sent emails. Some teachers have special notes they send home for missing homework that have to be signed by parents (you can find some of these at wetheteachers.com for example). For some things you might mail notes home - feel free to use school stationary but I would use an unmarked envelope to be sure it doesn't "disappear" from the time the student gets home until the parents arrive (with my middle school students that sometimes occurred). For situations where none of the above works or that are unique, I would schedule a meeting with parents before or after school. I really did not like doing this during the day/prep time because I actually did prep - some teachers prefer to do it then only.

Also, document everything. If you can have a neighboring teacher who is off the period you have your challenging student come in and do a detailed observation with a list of times and behaviors or simply a check sheet of how often they observe the student doing off-task behaviors that is very helpful. If no one is available, make a checklist and do so yourself. Sometimes simply the process of having a checklist (and the student finding out about it) will cause a student to change their behavior. But if they do not you have more than hearsay, you have some type of evidence to present to parents.

As a parent you don't want to know the student is "bad" you want to have specific information to work with so that you can have a sit-down talk with your child to fix it (just like teachers want don't want students to simply say "I don't understand!!!" you want to know the What). Also have a plan as to what you will be doing to help the student to improve their behavior (have a check list, behavior sheet, study time after school, special seating, whatever you feel will help).

Keep in mind, different teachers are comfortable doing different things that fit their personality, school community, and time constraints. Some schools even have specific procedures you must do when you contact parents. I am sure others will have different things they would list here but these have worked for me.

Tina Harris
Tina Harris
65560 Activity Points

Mon Nov 11, 2013 10:34 PM

Thank you so much! those suggestions are really good. Especially the tip "They make a point of finding something good the students are doing and sending home a note to tell the parents about the student's success." Maybe, I can use good note with bad note comes together. This like sandwich method.

Lili Zheng
Lili Zheng
2510 Activity Points

Tue Nov 12, 2013 2:52 PM

No matter how difficult a student may be or how difficult they may be to classmates when contacting a parent I always remind myself that this child is the baby they held in their arms and brought home from the hospital. Some children are exactly like their parents therefore by beginning and ending with a positive helps me to 'get through' to the parent. I start the conversation off with some type of generic positive - your child always tries to be on time/dressed appropriately etc. then I go for the reason and end with a positive.

Tory Addison
Tory Addison
5745 Activity Points

Sat Nov 16, 2013 1:24 PM

Correct, positive attitude is one of the best key to open the door for the communication with parents. It is also a great start to communicate.

Lili Zheng
Lili Zheng
2510 Activity Points

Tue Dec 03, 2013 10:04 PM

A communication method that is very quick and easy is called Remind101. It is free to use and sends text message or email reminders to parents about homework, quizzes, tests, and school events. I use it and all my parents love it.


Nathan Spriggs
500 Activity Points

Tue Feb 04, 2014 8:20 PM

As a future teacher, I was wondering how often do you meet with your students parents? Do you call home, send notes home? Meet face to face with the parents and how often?

Elizabeth Ferrari
Elizabeth Ferrari
2445 Activity Points

Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:50 PM

Hi Lili,

This is one of my biggest fears, as well. I am doing my pre-student teaching at an elementary school, and the other day an issue came up with a student regarding her and the science teacher. During class, the student remarked that she "hated science and thought it was stupid." The sad part is, that the students mom is a scientist!

I think my guide teacher did a great job handling the issue with the child's parent, by just being honest. She re-told the incident, just as it happened. She also allowed the student to be there when the parent was informed. I think that this helps keep the student accountable for their actions.

Good Luck!

Daphne

Daphne Henry
Daphne Henry
520 Activity Points

Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:32 PM

Elizabeth, there is no easy answer to your question. A lot depends on the age level and school setup. Elementary teachers generally have at least two formal conferences with parents a year. Our middle school did too, for a while, and it was helpful. Now we (and the high school teachers) see parents at open house once a year (and we are forbidden to do any "student conferences", although we can make appointments for them at a later time).

You should try to make contact with the parents of all students at the start of the year in a positive manner, even if it is only a note home to explain your classroom setup and policies. It is helpful, if you have the time and facilities to send home positive notes or make calls throughout the year, a few students each week. Problem students you will be making contact with their parents as frequently as you need to - if you do this promptly at the start of the year when trouble first starts, it can keep students on their best behavior for a long time.

Some schools have classroom websites, where you can also post notes to parents as well as students - other teachers make up their own and may post a blog as well as assignments so that parents have a feel for what is going on in the classroom.

It all depends on you, and to some extent your school. This is something you should think about, just as much as you consider your room arrangement or bulletin boards, before you start teaching - what do you feel comfortable doing and how will you do it?

Tina Harris
Tina Harris
65560 Activity Points

Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:55 PM

I try to make positive contacts with all of my parents at the beginning of the year. My favorite way of doing this is to send a photo of the student doing something really well in my Design and Engineering class through an email with a subject line of: Thought you would like to know …

The parent then opens the email and finds a photo of their child engaged in learning. The trick to making this work is the photo should not be a posed photo. It should be one where the student is working on whatever the task is you assigned. The more engaged they are, the better the photo turns out. I also try to get a variety of angles of the student that make the photo more interesting. By that I mean, I often set the camera on the table and then angle it upward. This allows the parent to see what the student is doing while having a really good shot of their child’s face.

To answer your question Elizabeth, I generally make students call their parents in class using either the classroom phone or their cell phones when I want them to know something like homework was not turned in, they forgot materials, they are off task but not dangerously so.

I tend to do most of my contacts by email since it is the fastest and most convenient. Email also gives me the opportunity to document my contact by printing it off and keeping it in a notebook of parent contacts made. This has saved me more than once when the parent complains to the principal that I didn’t respond to them. Any contact I make is automatically sent to myself as a cc, then printed and put in a notebook.

If the student’s behavior gets to a point where it prevents another student from learning and the behavior doesn’t change, then I email the parent and ask for a meeting any day of their choosing at 7:30 in the morning in my classroom. By having the meeting before school, there is a limited amount of time for the meeting to go on because I have to teach class. Parents are also on their way to work so they don’t have to take so much time off.

I also want the child there so they can explain their actions and/or their side of the story. This means the behavior gets dealt with immediately and parents don’t have all day to think about it and get mad.

Sandy Gady
Sandy Gady
42980 Activity Points

Fri Feb 21, 2014 9:23 PM

I think it's been said before, but if possible, I like to make positive contact with parents first, long before there is ever a behavioral challenge with a student. This could simply be meeting and introducing myself to the parent in a warm and friendly manner, and for no reason other than that. This should make them more receptive later on, if and when I do need to bring up concerns with a parent about behavior.

If possible, I also like to communicate with parents as regularly as I can to discuss how their child is doing, both on the good and the bad, even if there are no pressing behavior issues. The idea is to build up trust and rapport over time. The worst-case scenario in my opinion is when I don't open that communication to parents until it is necessitated by some exceedingly challenging behavior.

I agree with everyone else that it's good to start with something positive, especially in situations like parent-teacher conferences, which naturally lead themselves to more comprehensive overviews. You might want to phrase challenging behaviors as "challenges" or "concerns." Then I think it's a good idea to share what solutions you have tried, so that the parents know that you are trying to help the student, instead of just reporting the behavior without doing anything else.

Finally, much like you need to know your kids, get a sense of the parents. Different parents will react differently. Some parents know their kids very well and are completely understanding when concerns are brought up. Some even appreciate it, and will actually work with you. However, some parents may excuse, or even deny, such concerns. This is more difficult, but at times it will still be necessary to communicate with such parents.

Andrew Cretella
Andrew Cretella
320 Activity Points

Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:27 PM

I have four children and in my eyes, my four children are angels. Present both strengths and areas for improvement with genuine concern. Be proactive and set expectations from the beginning, I really do know my kids are not angels, but if you wait until mid year, as a parent I would challenge why this is the first initial contact? When I was in a classroom, I made six phone calls a week because I typically had 24 students so that way I communicated with each and every parent monthly and some were great job calls and other calls addressed concern. I insured to log it and keep a parent contact log throughout the duration of the school year. Best of luck, but as a future principal, my advice for you is to be involved in all facets of education with your students and at times it will take more than just a phone call. Many time the students that you are concerned about will turn out to be your best students, develop a relationship and gain their trust, you will be amazed with the end result!

Carmen Cruz
Carmen Cruz
2125 Activity Points

Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:25 PM

Parent teacher conferences. I would recommend letting to student attend because we all know students find the negatives in whatever the teacher criticizes them on. Maybe come up with ways for the student to improve and make sure you talk about their strong suits!

Dylaneigh Reardon
Dylaneigh Reardon
1485 Activity Points

Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:29 AM

I'm fairly blunt and straightforward in my emails home. I really dislike when I'm in a meeting with a parent with a group of teachers and the teachers sugarcoat and don't really tell it like it is.

I always try to end with, Hopefully we can find a way to work together to come up with a solution. That way I'm not just dumping it on them, but trying to get them to work with me

Chris Leverington
Chris Leverington
3820 Activity Points

Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:16 PM

Hi Lili Zheng,

Informing parents that their child is having a difficult time in your class can be difficult. I always try to put myself in the parent’s shoes and identify a way in which I would like to be approached.

I agree what other educators have posted in regards to delivering the news in a sandwich style. Good news, challenging news and end with good news.

I would also like to add that keeping a log of everything that is happening in your classroom would be beneficial. For example, document the time, date, and what the student’s inappropriate behavior. Also document when you have e-mailed or called the parent as well. It will help you keep track of all the attempts that you have made throughout the year.

Good luck!

Elizabeth Moran
Elizabeth Moran
490 Activity Points

Mon Mar 17, 2014 4:25 PM

The experts have been polled and the results are in: a positive parent-teacher relationship contributes to your child’s school success.

http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/going-to-school/parent-...rtnership/

B G
Sherry Alouidor
2075 Activity Points

Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:11 PM

Here are five ground rules of effective communication with parents:

Begin the year by explaining how and when you'll keep in touch with them. Let parents know that you value their questions and concerns and would never minimize them by responding "off the cuff" or "on the fly." Explain that in order to give them your undivided attention, you've set aside specific times to talk. It's important to decide when you want to take and return phone calls and emails and when you're available for school conferences, and to actually be available during those times. Post these times and procedures and send them home with your welcome letter or first newsletter. Earmarking office hours and sticking to them eliminates the need parents may feel to grab your ear in the parking lot or to monopolize your attention outside your classroom door before or after school.

Never feel pressured to make an important decision, evaluation, or assessment during a parent conference or conversation. Instead, be prepared to take some time to think and get back to the parent. For example, "You've made a great point, Mrs. Smith, and this is an important issue. I'd really like to give it some serious thought and get back to you on it." Then make it a point to tell the parent exactly when he or she can expect a response: "Let's schedule another meeting/phone conference for Friday. Does that work for you?" This allows you time to consider the issue, develop possible solutions, and consult with colleagues, administrators, or other professionals, if necessary.

Let parents know they can trust you. Be discrete: Avoid discussing students with other parents or engaging in any negative faculty-room talk. I also make this a rule for parent volunteers who spend time in the classroom. I tell parents that all of us have good days and bad days. If a volunteer witnesses a "bad day" — any negative or challenging behavior on the part of a student in the class — that particular situation remains in the classroom and confidential.

Assure parents that you will inform them immediately about any concerns you might have with regard to their child. Parents become extremely upset when the first sign of trouble comes in the form of a progress report halfway into the marking period or worse yet, on the report card itself. I always try to share even small concerns early on, rather than waiting and then dropping a bombshell.

When presenting a concern to parents, ALWAYS be ready to explain what strategies you've already used to address the issue and what new strategies you are considering. Parents don't want concerns dropped in their laps without at least a tentative action plan, which you'll adjust based on their input.

Anaily Pedraza
Anaily Pedraza
1040 Activity Points

Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:56 PM

I work at daycare while going to school for my degree and I deal with difficult children a lot and one of the things I was told is to give news like a sandwich. First say something good about the child, second talk about the problem and lastly say another good thing about them. It helps so it doesn't make it seem like you're gaining up on the child.

Danielle Breslin
Danielle Breslin
1695 Activity Points

Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:56 PM

Danielle Breslin
Danielle Breslin
1695 Activity Points

Thu Apr 03, 2014 12:52 AM

The way that I talk to parents about their child when s/he is challenging in the classroom is to use the "sandwich" method. Start off with something positive to say, then insert the problem areas, and conclude with something positive again. Also, when discussing the problems with the student, make sure to make the parent feel like you are on their child's side. Make sure that you are expressing that you want the student to succeed and can do so if they fix x, y, and z. Give suggestions and make it into a partnership (communication between you and the parent). A follow-up phone call saying something positive afterwards goes a long way too. It's a lot sometimes, but it has worked wonders for me. Hope that helps!

Nicole Ross
Nicole Ross
365 Activity Points

Fri Sep 26, 2014 7:49 PM

I agree with the sandwich method. I have known teachers who are not so kind when talking to parents, and the situation can get out of hand fast. Always start positive. You can also get suggestions from the parents on working together to correct the child's behavior issue.

Traci Silverthorn
Traci Silverthorn
2610 Activity Points

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