Teachers around the world are working harder than ever before. Some of us are struggling to learn new technology while delivering quality instruction. We are trying to figure out what to teach online and how to package it so students can understand virtually. Some teachers are now teaching online and in-person. And it is a lot. For many of us, there are people in our community who are helping us out tremendously. Especially with elementary students, our kiddos’ parents.
If you want remote learning to work for you, you have to build relationships with your students’ parents.
In previous school years, some of us made it optional to communicate regularly with parents. This school year is forcing many of us to communicate with parents more than ever before.
Here are some tips for building relationships with parents.
Minimize Your Communication with Parents
Parents do NOT want your daily emails or messages. They are not their child’s personal assistant. Sure, most parents want regular communication, but they do not want daily reports. Seriously, just say NO! They are not reading your daily messages, and you are annoying them. AKA, you are becoming unlikeable. This is not what you want in a high-stress time.
Some parents have multiple children, or their child has numerous teachers, so imagine if more than one teacher is reaching out to them throughout the week. How many emails and messages do you think they’ve received?
Parents are also working a full-time job, many from home. Think about how many emails they are getting from work.
I message parents at maximum twice a week. Lately, it’s only been once, on Fridays or Mondays. I prefer Friday’s because I can recap the week and share all the announcements that need at the end of the week. I’ve learned if I message them on Monday, then I had to email them on Friday to share anything that happened during the week. So emailing on Friday’s has cut out an extra email.
There are special circumstances that require me to message more than twice a week, like if my principal needs us to deliver a message to parents immediately. And if that is the case, I make it very clear that the news is not coming from me.
Although I keep my communication with parents minimal, I make sure they know they can always reach out to me.
Have Routines and Procedures that Allow Students to be Self Sufficient
When we were thrown into remote teaching, I wanted to make things easy enough that students could get their work done with little to no support from their parents. When the school year ended, I had a few parents thank me for making things simple enough that students could do work on their own.
So, this school year, I had to keep that same energy! Even though now I have first graders (last year I had 5th), we are entering our fifth week of school, and my students can do most of it on their own. Of course, they need help to know what time to get online, but they can log onto Zoom by themselves. They’re able to complete assignments on their own. I’m still working on making instructions simple enough for six-year-olds, but I’m getting better each week.
Are we working harder than we would if we were in classrooms? Yes. But, the parents have to do extra work too. So, every once in a while, say thank you. Let them know you appreciate their help. Pre-COVID, being kind to parents and recognizing what they’ve done helped me build positive relationships.
Think about when you’re doing something to help someone, and they don’t say thank you. Aren’t you less likely to help in the future? You don’t have to say thank you every day. But genuinely let them regularly see that you appreciate them.
Use a Communication App
Communication apps like Remind, Class Dojo, and Seesaw are excellent apps to use if you want to make communicating with parents super easy. Email is cool, but think about how many times you told a parent you’ve sent them an email and they never opened it. The apps can be installed on their phone so they get a message from you like a text, or they can set up their account to have messages sent to their email. It’s the best of both worlds.
I love using a communication app right now because my email inbox is popping. My district email sends out the district emails to another folder, so sometimes, I don’t see parent emails right away. Using an app keeps all my parent messages in one spot.
And if you aren’t a fan of adding an app to your phone, all the above mention apps work well on the computer.
For more information on communication apps, check out my blog posts 3 REASONS WHY TEACHERS SHOULD USE A PARENT COMMUNICATION APP THIS SCHOOL YEAR & 5 WAYS TEACHERS SHOULD USE A PARENT COMMUNICATION APP THIS SCHOOL YEAR.
Look guys; we need parents. We’ve always needed them. If you haven’t made parent communication a priority, then it may be awkward at first. Use remote learning as an opportunity to make your parent communication become a strength.