Partnering with Parents

One of the workshops I really enjoyed was about how to work with different types of parents. It offered a lot of great practical advice and suggestions. This workshop was led by Dr. Paul Wrobbel from Illinois.

Different Types of Parents:
1) The Elusive Parent– Fearful of teachers. Prefers minimal contact with teachers.

How to approach them: Reach out to them very early in the school year. Send out a welcome letter in the summer to all the families in your class. Conduct home visits in the summer if possible.

2) The Angry Parent– Often will say things like, “Not my child!”

How to avoid attack form them: Enlist their help, by asking them questions about their child. Use soft language such as: “I’m wondering if you ever noticed if…” “Have you ever seen this behavior at home? ”

Thank them for their help. Make them into partners.

Do not delay contact with them. Make contact quickly. They want to know what’s going on.

Provide evidence of the problem. Make copies of the academic work, or have other adults (teachers) who have also seen the problem.

3) The Eager Parent- They are the parents that love to help out and are at school everyday.

How to cultivate them: Have them become your room mom/dad. Have them come in to  help and organize.  They are very valuable members of the community. Ask them to help you with things, like finding outside resources and field trip ideas.

4) The Busy Parent– They are really busy with work and other responsibilities. Often they may not even be at home or in the country.

How to catch them: They want you to stay in touch with you, so get digital! Use e-mail, texting, blogs, podcasts, etc to keep in touch with them. Regardless of the response you get from them, keep the communication going. Keep them connected to the classroom. I hope to write a separate entry about podcasting next!

5) The English-Learning Parent– They are often difficult to attract to the classroom environment. They have difficulty speaking English.

How to reach them: For some reason I didn’t write anything down in this section and I can’t remember what he said. My advice would be to find people to help translate for them when meeting for conferences or calls home. Don’t have the kids translate!

6 Keys to Successful Communication with Parents:

1. Partnership– Remember that it is a partnership. We are part of the TEAM. Respond constructively to parent concerns and be sensitive to parental needs.

2. Words of Affirmation– Send positive notes home and positive phone calls as well.

3. Openness– Display an open posture towards parents. Greet them & acknowledge them when you see them. Be open with them. Use common language (not teacher talk).

4. Prompt Communication– Any type of communication from a parent should have a 24 hour response time. When you delay communication, it could show that you don’t care.

Put up some boundaries. Don’t give out personal cell phone numbers. If you don’t answer school e-mails outside of school, let parents know that.

Create calendar reminders to follow up with parents. Always lean towards too much communication, rather than too little.

5. Informed Administration– Keep the administration informed about problems or concerns. Therefore, if parents go to the principal about a problem, the principal will already have some background knowledge and be able to support you.

6. Confidentiality and Teacher Talk– Don’t poison the well for other teachers about students. Be careful about what information you share about your students with other teachers.

Some other good highlights were:

*Be proactive!  Parents will see you as a caring teacher.

*Don’t take things personally.

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