For Teachers: Engaging with Parents Could be the Key to Success
  • By admin
  • November 5, 2019

By @GraceCShelton

In order for teachers to build and maintain positive relationships with their students and their classrooms, they must first seek to engage parents. This means that teachers need to foster collaboration with families in order to create a united front in a child’s education. All too often, parents feel left out of their child’s schooling. Teachers are busy, math is different, and a phone call from the school usually suggests a report of negative behaviors. However, these mindsets can be changed with a little more guidance from teachers. Establishing a close relationship between the main adults in a students’ life can greatly impact the students’ potential to succeed. 

Recently, the Hechinger Report detailed specific ways a teacher can connect with their students’ parents. These are all relatively simple and straightforward but point to a lack of understanding many parents may feel about their child’s education and daily school life. Firstly, the article states that teachers must stress the importance of working together. Families aren’t always sure what their child’s teacher is really like, and it takes a certain amount of trust to build relationships. Therefore, teachers must make it clear that they want to work in partnership with families. It’s not always obvious to parents whether or not their child’s teachers are on their side, and it’s important to establish this right off the bat. 

Secondly, the piece urges teachers to identify parents as the experts in the room. Only the parents really know the ins and outs of their child. Teachers should make it clear that they appreciate the knowledge parents have and hope that parents can share this with them in order to improve their child’s educational experience. This knowledge has the potential to “bridge and advance learning.” 

The piece goes on to detail five more tips for teachers to establish positive relationships with parents. These include things like identifying student strength, expressing commitment to development, setting ideal forms of communication, and including young people in the discussion. However, there is one piece of advice I find the most pertinent: demystifying the educational process. This is important, as schooling has seen shifts in the past few decades that might impede parents from understanding the process. This includes everything from advocating for their student’s rights in IEP meetings or understanding the new processes for dissecting texts and performing well on standardized tests. This is especially important considering Hechinger’s previous piece on the consequences of not keeping parents aware of education reforms and classroom practices. If teachers can make this process as transparent as possible, parents can be more of an ally and advocate for their child. 

As a former teacher myself, I remember the shifts in my classroom once I started engaging with parents on a deeper level. My students knew I had a relationship with their parent, and this teamwork and partnership encouraged the student to work harder in the classroom. Hechinger Report got it right when they encouraged teachers to engage with parents. It makes all the difference.


Read also: Parent Engagement in Schools: Worth the Investment