3 Top tips for productive communication with parents

Going into the New Year you are sure to have made some resolutions about managing behaviour in your classroom. One of the most effective ways to resolve disruptive behaviour is to interact with parents. Speaking with parents presents an opportunity to make sure a pupil’s positive behaviour is praised and any problematic behaviour is addressed quickly. We’ve put together 3 top tips to help teachers improve communication with parents.

1 – Communicate with parents when things are going well

Opening up a line of communication with parents concerning difficult behaviour is never easy. If you’ve managed to establish a positive relationship with parents when their child is doing well they are less likely to respond in a negative way when behaviour slips. Simple postcards home to acknowledge positive behaviour work well and don’t take too much time.

Try to have had some contact with parents prior to review day or parents’ evening. Even a quick phone call to keep parents updated can save the shock of a behavioural bombshell at reporting time or parents’ evening.

2 – Build trust

Some parents won’t have had a positive experience at school so they won’t be onside when you are trying to resolve any issues with their child. They are likely to perceive school as a threatening place and may not be willing to co-operate. You’ll need to build up a relationship of trust with them to put them at ease. Letting them know that you want to help can be enough. Here are some simple phrases which may be helpful:

  • I understand you are concerned and I hope I can help in some way
  • We are here to support your child. How would you like us to do that?
  • Please tell me how you feel about this situation.

Effective dialogue develops out of a growing trust and a mutual concern. Having a solution-focused approach based on a pupils past successes can help to alleviate blame and move forward with an intervention plan. If parents realise you have their child’s best interest at heart, you should be able to build a positive and trusting relationship with parents. Make sure you always get back to parents when you say you will.

3 – Make parents evening a positive experience

Ensure that you are organised and consistent. Have a standardised way of recording discussions with a section for targets, areas parents can help and parents’ comments, as well as any PSHE issues. Be sure you have a pen and paper so you can write down your email address if any parent wants to contact you. You can also write down essential bullet points you would like the pupil to learn and any homework that still needs to be completed.

Drink plenty and be prepared (make sure you’ve eaten beforehand – it can be a long evening). Sandwich any criticism between positive comments. It makes it easier for pupils to accept your advice, and for parents to get on board too.

Smile at parents when they approach. Make them feel welcome.

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