Communication: Get it right

Part of my reflection and recuperation routine this summer is to spend some time reading what other professionals have to say. Yesterday I read an interesting article titled Take a Risk…Flip your Parent Communication.  I must say that I don’t agree with the flipped classroom model for my 8th grade math class.  It wouldn’t work for my teaching style, I love technology and the ability to create educational content for students to use anywhere, but not realistic for my students.

What they said is true though. Communication needs to be flipped. Not only can communicating be burdensome if not done right, it’s also seen as a negative thing with parents. How can the ‘flip’ that happen? First we need to know how to contact parents. I’ve updated my student information sheet for the upcoming school year to make it a little easier to navigate. Feel free to check it out!

Information Sheet

Contacting parents can be a difficult task. Teachers never know how they will respond. Some parents get called often.  So when they see the school’s number on their caller id, they immediately get anxious or mad.  I don’t blame them.  Most of the time when schools call, it’s under poor circumstances.

As educators, we have to change this! How?

1. Make Communication Positive

Parents’ shouldn’t dread talking to school personnel.  Make it positive even when you are upset. It’s hard to do when you are frustrated. Still, be polite and courteous at all times.  This is their baby you are talking about.

Make sure to communicate to parents about positive stuff too. There is something positive about everyone. As teachers, we see the potential in every student. Let parents know about all the potential you see in their child and how parents can see help you encourage the students.

2. Make Communication Convenient 

Know how parents communicate best. Do they check their email through out the day? Are they able to take personal phone while at work? Know what works for them so you can actually get a hold of them.

On the flip side, make sure communication works for you too. Time is a scarce and precious resources for teachers. Make sure your workspace is set up for fast and convenient communication! If it’s a hassle to get to your computer or school phone, then you’ll more than likely forget about it or just plain not do it.

3. Make Communication Natural

Communicate with parents in a way that is natural. To start, make sure parents know how to contact you. A postcard could be sent out at the start of the year with ways to keep in touch. If parents know the lines of communication are open from the beginning, then the communication will seem more natural rather than an us verse them mentality.  Another way to make it seem natural is to just make a small modification to your normal routine. For example, if you are a technology person, send out weekly email update or put homework, projects, quizzes, tests, etc.. on a class website.  Technology isn’t everyone’s thing, so you could send out postcards.

4. Make Communication a Habit

Once you start communicating, make sure you communicate on a regular basis. If you are bad about making phone calls or sending emails to parents, create a check list with who you have contacted lately and post it somewhere you will see it everyday to remind you.

The wheels are turning. I have to figure out how to make communication work for me this school year. I want it to be fun, positive, and something that will stick.