As a dedicated teacher or school leader you’ve probably put a hell of lot of time and effort into building great relationships with the parents of the students in your class and school.
And hopefully you're bearing the fruits of a strong partnership with pleasing academic results and amicable work relationships with parents.
It’s easy for a teacher or school leader to neglect parents in the last term as student reports, year level lists and end-of-year activities dominate school schedules. But it’s important to complete the partnership journey so that they feel happy with the relationship and compelled to build strong partnership with their teachers next year.
Here are five ideas to end up the school year on a high note with parents:
1. Revisit their goals for their child
Whether formally (through a meeting, workshop or in the school newsletter) or informally help parents revisit the goals and aspirations that they had for their child at the start of the year. Start the conversation with questions such as:
“How has this year been for your child?”
“What were you looking forward to for your child?”
“What was your child looking forward to?”
When we fail to give voice to parent aspirations we risk either low expectations or overblown, unrealistically high expectations. Make the conversation real by starting and ending a school year with parents’ as well as children’s hopes and dreams.
2. Provide feedback about their engagement
Look for positive ways to provide feedback about their engagement in their child’s learning during the year. While the level of participation will vary a great deal, put a positive spin even on even more meagre efforts reminding parents that their contribution has helped their child during the year. Don’t take for granted the parents who put in 110% effort helping their kids learn. They’ll appreciate your gratitude and positive feedback as well.
3. Remind them of the benefits of working together
Any good marketer will tell you that you’ve got to keep reminding people about why they used a product or service in the first place. That way they'll stay engaged. The same principle applies with parent participation. Keep their enthusiasm high by continually reminding parents about the educational benefits to their child that strong parent-teacher partnership provides.
4. Give them hope for next year
Somehow student reports always seem a little rosier at the end of the year so resist the temptation of glossing over glaring learning or behavioural deficiencies a child may have. On the other hand, it’s vital that you paint the picture of the possibility of a bright future for the following year. Regardless of how a child may have progressed this year his or her parents need hope that their child can succeed next year. Getting the balance right between realistic feedback and a bright future is important for parents and students alike.
5. Get feedback from parents
If continuous improvement is important to you then consider seeking out a number of colleagues and one or two trusted parents to provide feedback about your communication and people management style. Acting on honest and accurate feedback is the one the quickest ways to improve performance in any area including the challenging area of working with parents.
Last impressions tend to be lasting impressions so make sure you end the year on a positive note with as many parents in your school community as possible. That means, be friendly, be positive and show your appreciation for the interest and efforts they took to support their child and you during the year.
Find out how we can help you build your skills and confidence work effectively with all parents in your school community at parentingideasschools.com.au.