Building a productive parent-teacher relationship begins here
The old adage tells us that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. It is definitely one for the books when it comes to dealing with adults, but any parent with school going children will tell you it doesn’t apply to their ward’s schooling. Every parent wants their child to succeed in school, purely because it is the easiest way to ensure a safe future professionally and personally. The story is no different for teachers for whom, one could argue, the job mandate is to very much make their pupils satiate their thirst for knowledge.
Suffice to say that, apart from the student themselves, parents and teachers are the biggest factors in helping them achieve their academic goals. It takes a village to raise a child – and educate one! But not without a game plan. It is important to ensure that teachers and parents align on goals, strategies, and key responsibilities to ensure their ward experiences a certain level of consistency in their schooling experience. Academic success begins with their
coordinated efforts. A key factor in ensuring that teachers and parents work in tandem is creating clear and effective channels of communication.
This is easy to accomplish when a natural rapport is established with parents in question or when a teacher has the time and bandwidth to slowly build it. However, the yearly churn created by the natural progress of students from one year to the next means that it can often have to be created faster than it would naturally. So what are teachers and parents to do?
Here are some ways to ensure effective communication on an ongoing basis with each other:
1. Establish a communication protocol
Straight off the bat, it is helpful to set the tone between both parties in terms of communication. It is helpful if the teacher reaches out to the parents in their class with a set of simple rules for communication that function as rules for engagements for both parties to follow to ensure effective communication. These can include office hours, most reliable mode of communication (email, your school management system’s communication portal, or the phone), the protocol to be followed for various instances ranging from homework inquiries to emergency situations, etc. Establishing these guidelines early ensures that everyone starts off on the right footing.
2. Be proactive and professional
Playing the waiting game might be cool in the latest romantic comedy, but is hardly a blueprint for effective communication in real life. Waiting for the other party to make the first move is immature and ineffective, resulting in only delays and misunderstandings. It is better to err on the side of seeming overeager rather than uncaring – this is about a student’s scholarly progress and professional future after all. Reach out to the other party in a timely fashion, if not early to give them a heads up of anticipated events or roadblocks – it helps all parties to remain aware and prepared for whatever is about to come.
3. Use technology to enable communication
The time for notes in the school diary is well past and must be relegated to the archives. In this day and age of WhatsApp groups, emails, and personal messenger a parent can be looped in on every school communication without having to handwritten notes to be shared by a forgetful student or circulars that are just one more dead tree to recycle. Use your school management system’s communication portal to alert parents to anything from mundane daily updates to important alerts about student progress.