Creating Parents as Partners- Part Two - Down River Resources

Creating Parents as Partners- Part Two

Howdy, friends.

Yesterday, I shared with you the most impactful way that I communicate with parents through our weekly note. If you missed it, click here to get caught up. Today, I will be sharing with you the a few of the secrets to my face-to-face communication with parents.

Parents come from all walks of life, just like our students. Some are very knowledgeable, have advanced degrees, and are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. kind of people. Others, are teenagers that are trying their hardest to fulfill their parents' dream, sometimes their own dream, of finishing school, as their parents take a large role in the raising of their child. Each year, I have a mix of these parents, each one has something that makes them marvelous! I try to find that in each of them. All of these parents truly want what is best for their child. Most know how to create that while others need support. Believe it or not, I believe that I help families, not just the students who walk through Room 109 each year.

There are good days and bad days in my classroom. Sound familiar? I hope so. It doesn't matter which day it is, I talk to each child's parents daily when they pick them up from school, after shaking their hand. In a later part of the series, I will talk about my written communications with parents too.

Most of the conversations are one of two types. Positive conversations are the norm for most students in my classroom, especially the sweet girls who do everything they possibly can to be helpful in the classroom. Optimistic conversations occur sporadically for other students and there is at least one of these per student each year. Read the following:

Positive Conversation

Me: "Hi, Mrs. So-and-So." Handshake exchanged.
Parent: "Hi, Mrs. Williams."
Me: "_____, had a great day today. She was helpful to her friend who was having a rough day and she learned a new science word today, repeal. Ask her about it tonight."
Parent: "Wow! Great news! Thanks, Mrs. Williams. See you tomorrow." Looking at the child, "Tell Mrs. Williams, thank you."

Optimistic Conversation
Me: "Hi, Mrs. So-and-So." Handshake exchanged.
Parent: "Hi, Mrs. Williams."
Me: "_____, had a great morning. He was well-behaved and polite with his tablemates. As the day progressed, he chose to talk while I was teaching. We talked about what he was doing and why it was inappropriate. We came up with a plan of how he can share with his friends appropriately next time he has something to say."
Parent: "I'm sorry to hear that. ____, what happened."
Me: "I would appreciate it if you could reinforce the appropriate behaviors at home and if it happens again provide a consequence."
Parent: "Yes, we will have a talk at home. Thank you for brining it to my attention. What do you tell Mrs. Williams?"

Each day, parents count on speaking with me about their child's day, whether it is positive or "optimistic." If they are on their cell phone, they politely ask for a minute from the person they are communicating with, to speak to me. If they are stopped by a friend's mom, they tell them they will return after they talk to me. Parents are creatures of habit once you form the routine with them.

These conversations create a special bond with each family. One mother told me, during one of our many conversations, "Let me know when you are having a baby! I would love to plan your baby shower!" (I only know this parent from being their child's teacher. We do not text or aren't friends on Facebook.) That is the power of communication! P.S. No babies on the way. I hope the offer will extend for another year or two!

Every now and then, I will have a parent who is distant and wants to stand by a corner and wait. I do not allow their child to run a small distance to them, parents must come to me for the dismissal of the child. They might get a little upset the first few times and if they are visibly upset, I will tell them something about how their child's safety is the upmost importance to me and this is one way that I am keeping them safe for them. (They usually digress when it is put into perspective.)

It  does not matter the grade level I am teaching, I still create parents as partners using this technique. I have done this in fifth grade too, though I would usually only see one or two parents daily. I hope this gives you a new perspective on face-to-face parent communication for your new year. This is another way that parents and I create a partnership of expectations each year.

Stay tuned for more on creating parents as partners.

Happy Contemplating!


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