Communication plays a significant role in every profession, but none more so than teaching. While effective educators require advanced communication skills to engage students in the classroom, they also benefit from developing successful methods to communicate better with parents and the school board.
Every teacher learns this quickly in their career. Building open communication channels with their student's parents helps to avoid problems in the classroom. And not having the ability to get their voice heard at the district level can leave teachers frustrated about their job.
Fortunately, professional development courses can help teachers communicate effectively with parents and education leaders and develop a better understanding of student communication.
Ideas to Improve Teacher-Parent Communication
Good communication with parents is critical to student success because it can increase parent involvement in education. As studies show, one of the most accurate predictors of student success is the extent to which parents become involved in the child’s education.
Enhancing communication helps educators understand parents’ concerns and perspectives. Edutopia notes that some of the biggest roadblocks to parental involvement are practical in nature, especially in households with two working parents. Challenges include trouble accessing the school website, conflicting work schedules, lack of translation services and the feeling that frequent requests for donations or fundraising seem prioritized above all other issues.
Teachers can take steps to improve communication with parents and build stronger teacher-parent relationships. These steps include holding regular meetings scheduled at a time to accommodate parents, inviting parents to observe the classroom, saying something positive about a child when first contacting parents and practicing transparency about what is taught in the classroom.
Other suggestions include:
- Establishing collegial teacher-parent relationships at the beginning of the school year.
- Contacting parents at the beginning of the year about their preferred method of communication. This is also the time to determine if there are language barriers.
- Asking parents to write something about their child that will help the teacher know them better or give parents a survey with questions designed to help them learn about the student’s attitude toward the subject matter and school in general.
- Using social media, posting student work or class information on a Twitter, Facebook or Instagram account.
- Sharing good news as well as bad news. It’s a tactic that is most effective with families who are new to the country and may not have heard from teachers much in the past unless the news was bad.
Ideas For Building Stronger Teacher-School Board Relationships
The connection between district-level leadership and those in individual schools often needs to be improved. Some strive to find a balance between top-down initiatives and incorporating ideas that rise from teachers and individual school leaders. Teachers can further this process by ensuring their voice is heard by school boards and district leadership. These skills also can help teachers become better leaders themselves.
Leadership skills are an essential part of the process of improving schools and student outcomes. Non-profit organization XQ, which focuses on improving high schools, notes that “as a teacher, you’re the expert on how district policy plays out in the classroom. Share that insider perspective with board members to collaborate on structural change.”
XQ suggests that teachers get to know school board members and the actions they take so they can focus their communication with the board. They also suggest inviting school board members to participate in school community events, inviting board members to observe professional development sessions and forming a school board advisory committee that can bring local issues to the district’s attention.
School boards also have various ways to support teachers and open clear channels of communication. They include making efforts to retain and support teachers as part of the district’s goals (including commitment of budget and resources), providing adequate training for teachers to implement new initiatives and supporting professional development allowing teachers to learn, collaborate and innovate.
Fresno Pacific University Courses on Communication
Fresno Pacific University provides several professional development courses for educators to help them communicate more productively with parents and school boards. They include courses in the Student Engagement Certificate program and a course on Dealing With Difficult Parents.
Teachers can earn required professional development credit through these courses and certificate programs while expanding their skills and learning strategies to communicate better with parents and school boards.