New teachers know the first week of school is about establishing classroom rules and routines that will support them throughout the school year. But what they also need to know is how to establish a positive relationship with the #1 stakeholder in their students’ lives. No parent wants their child to be unsuccessful and unproductive and every teacher needs to know that success and productivity in the classroom comes much easier with the support of parents. When it comes to shaping student behavior and impacting academic performance you need to know your best advocate, the child’s parent.
Start the year off right with an opening letter and an invitation to meet the parents during the first week of school. In your meeting or letter ask questions that will support you in these three key elements of building a healthy parent-teacher relationship:
Good Communication: How will you communicate and what is the best way to exchange news: blog, phone, email.
Common Interest: What do you need to know about their child to plan instruction and what should they about your instructional style?
Respect: Understand what they do to support their child socially, emotionally and academically and share your strategies so parents know what you will be doing in the classroom.
First and foremost in your letter to parents tell them you are excited to work with THEM and support THEIR child’s success. A child’s first teacher is the parent so be respectful of the child’s culture and background when it comes to discipline, management and designing classroom instruction. A question you might ask is:
In what ways can I best support your child in following the rules and completing tasks?
It also important that you express to parents that you value every childs’ learning preference and you will create an engaging school experience that will consider their preferences, interests and needs. But you will never know what these needs might be unless you ask?
What does your child like to do?
How does your child prefer to learn?
What does your child show interest in?
As a mama of two school aged boys, my boys have different learning styles. My oldest son prefers to work with his peers and engage in hands on-tasks and activities. He becomes bored and restless if he asked to sit too long and work without collaboration. He is extremely verbal and prefers to work in cooperative groups so he can share ideas and collaborate. My younger boy is artistic and shy. He prefers a quiet work environment and needs assignments chunked or he can get overwhelmed.
Every year I write a letter to my child’s teacher so they are aware of what I have known for years every child is different and has learning strengths, needs and preferences.
I am excited that you will be my son’s teacher for the upcoming school year….