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Parent/Teacher Communication... HELP!

Rachel

As a teacher, I understand that it is essential to maintain connected to the parents of my students. I realize that I should be constantly contacting them in order to share all types of information- student health (did he/she complain of any aches and pains that day), student behavior (was it a good day or a bad day?), student accomplishments and celebrations, etc. I would like to put into place some sort of constant system of communication between the parents and myself- one that is fairly easy to document. I am in the habit of sending home a weekly newsletter in order to keep parents updated on weekly skills, but I would like something more personal. What makes this difficult is that I have many student's parents that have a disconnected phone line, many student's parents that are illiterate, and many student parents that do not have regular access to a computer; therefore, making communication difficult. Does anyone have a suggestion for how I could become better connected with the parents of my students? I am open to any and all comments and suggestions. Thanks!

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Principal at Nursery & Kindergarten School in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Establishing positive relationships with parents

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Dear Rachel,
I totally agree with you that it is very important to establish positive and strong connections with the parents. I believe that success at school could be achieved with a sacred triangle: a student, a teacher and a parent. If one of these elements are missing, it is unlikely that one will get an expected positive result. Let me share my school's practice that helps to homeroom teachers to know more about students' backgrounds and to establish good relationships with parents:

We simply do home visits with a bouquet of flowers, where we try to talk about different sides of our students' characters or habits. Since, most of my parents are Cambodians and only few of them speak English, I do my home visits with one Khmer assistant teacher who helps me to communicate with parents. Majority of parents are happy to see caring teachers in their homes and are eager to meet with us again. At the same time, I try to take all updated information related to the families' contacts so that the info could be used at a required time.

I hope that you will establish positive relationships with your parents very soon.

current: 8th grade earth science, prior: 10 years high school sciences: all

Call a friend

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in the military we used a phone tree to recall people in emergencies. I have used this idea a few times when I have parents who are totally off grid. I try and identify those whose mode of contact is nonexistent or changes often. Then I try and contact them when they come to the parent night or if not I try letters mailed to the house asking them to call me when they can. I try to find out if they have any friends or neighbors or relatives whose child is in my class or goes to our school. Usually many kids come from the same elementary schools and many of the parents live in the same neighborhood or apartment building. If they say yes I ask if I can contact that person to tell the parent to call me. I assure them I never would pass on any information about their child, but I may need to let them know about an activity we are starting, field trip or event at the school. I stay after school alot and pick two days and certain hours to be there for sure if the parents call. I get contacts for a few more parents this way but there are still those who I can never find even with the help of the counselors and administrators. I have tested this system when I get permission by making the first time I do so a call with praise for something the child has done exceptionally well with. I try to make sure I don't abuse it since for some parents they have to go through alot of trouble just to get to a phone to call me back. We now have teams at our school so a group of us teach the same group of students and this makes parent contact easier.
Hope this might help.

High school english teacher and blogger.

Phone Tree!

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Beautiful solution, Anne! This is also helpful for parents who don't speak English, I'm thinking. Wow. Simple solutions work!

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