• How Teachers Can Survive a School Year with Difficult Parents

    How Teachers Can Survive a School Year with Difficult Parents

    How Teachers Can Survive a School Year with Difficult Parents

    Here and there, you’ll have those parents that give you a hard time. Sometimes they have a reputation of being difficult, and other times your personalities don’t match. One thing we have to keep in mind is, we are in the customer service business. Most parents aren’t out to make our school year miserable; they want what is best for their children. Many times we let miscommunication or misunderstandings ruin our partnerships with parents (I’m guilty of this too). If you’re having a rough time this school year with a parent, check out these tips to make the rest of the year better.

    Be Positive

    Although this parent may not be your favorite person to talk to, you still should make each conversation a positive one. If this is a parent of a child with discipline issues, compliment the student on their appropriate behavior frequently, no matter how small. This way, the parent doesn’t feel like you only want to speak to them when their child is misbehaving.

    Also, leave the last conversation behind, especially if it wasn’t positive. Recently I’ve had a not so pleasant conversation with a parent, we didn’t agree on our issue, but I made sure our next interaction was positive.

    While we are human, and parents may do things that upset us, we should try to make each interaction with parents as pleasant as possible.

    Document Your Communication

    Once I realize a parent is going continuously to give me a hard time, I only communicate with them via email or a communication app. I don’t call or talk to the parent face to face alone. I want proof and documentation of our interactions. Documenting your conversations saves you from the he said she said drama.

    For example, I had a parent tell the principal that I didn’t let them know that I was having issues with their child. The parent forgot that I was using an app to keep her updated about her son. So, when I showed the principal that I was communicating about the student’s bad days, I also had proof that I reached out to her on good days. My principal could also see that the parent had responded to all the messages. Although I had a supportive principal, this was proof that the parent wasn’t honest.

    Keep in mind, if you’re using email or an app as a way to document parent communication, the documentation goes both ways. Make sure you keep it professional. I highly recommend using a parent communication app to communicate with all parents, grab my Free Parent Communication Cheat Sheet to help get you started.

    Posting Ideas for Parent Communication Apps Cheat Sheet

    Let it Go

    They’ll be some school years when you get parents that don’t like you. As long it is not every single year, let it go. If you have parents who aren’t fond of you every year, then you may need to do some reflection. But, I think it is normal for every few years you have a parent that complains to the office about you.

    We all are different, so it is normal for other adults not to like us. You can’t please everyone, and as long as you’re being respectful and doing what’s best for your students, don’t let their opinions bother you. I know it is easier said than done, but you are the expert in your classroom. Your energy should be spent on building relationships with your students, as your relationships with your students grow, your relationships with their parents will grow too.

    Having a problematic parent can make our challenging job even more challenging. The thing you should keep in mind when dealing with challenging parents is that unless you loop with the students, your time with the parent will end in just a few short months!

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  • 5 Ways Teachers Should Use a Parent Communication App This School Year

    5 Ways Teachers Can Use A Communication App This School Year

     

    5 Ways Teachers Can Use A Communication App This School Year

    Every year I hear teachers complain about the lack of parent involvement. But what are we doing individually to make it better? Complaining about it has gotten us nowhere! One of my favorite ways make parent involvement better is by using a communication app. There are a few out there, but my favorite is Class Dojo. Using a parent communication app is an easy way to get your parents engaged and an easy way to document that you are reaching out to parents. There are many things you can share with your parents when you use an app, here are my favorite things to post.

    Show What You’re Doing In Class

    As I mentioned, my favorite app is Class Dojo. They have a stories feature that looks similar to Instagram. I usually snap pictures my anchor charts or the words of the week to let parents know what we are working on. One year, I did a multiplication contest and posted weekly who won. If you’re working on a really cool project in class post it! I didn’t know how much my parents like seeing what was going in our class  until I got swamped at work and forgot to post for a few weeks! They began reaching out to me see what was going on in class!

    Give Parents Tips On How to Help at Home

    When I taught third grade, kiddos learning their multiplication facts was a big deal. On the app, I would post reminders to make sure the kiddos practiced their facts and how to help them practice at home. When I gave out new words for the week, I would show the parents different ways that students could practice memorizing their spelling words. Or I would tell parents to make sure students log in to educational websites you use in class. Whatever you do, keep it simple for yourself and the parents.

     

    Posting Ideas for Parent Communication Apps Cheat Sheet

    Keep Parents Updated On Important Events

    As I mentioned before, we know that somehow notes don’t get home. So, take pictures of important notes like field trip permission letters. Let them know that report cards are going home. Sometimes parents don’t show up to events because they never got the note that went home!  This is a super easy way to keep your parents in the loop!

    Keep Parents Updated With Their Kiddo’s Progress

    Did your kiddo make a 60% on last week’s spelling test, but made 80% on this weeks? Snap a picture and send it to their parents with a private message. Just like those notes, student work that we grade gets lost between school and home. Taking a quick pic will keep parents in the loop.

    If you reached out to a parent yesterday about a problem you were having with their kiddo, let the parent know the next day that their kiddo’s day was better. Make sure you balance out good and bad days for students who have trouble behaving. One way to get parents not to use the app is if you are always talking to them about negative things. Make sure you keep it balanced.

    Take Pictures of Important Events

    A lot of parents can’t make award ceremonies, make them feel like they were there by taking pictures. For all my kiddos whose parents can’t make the ceremony, I take a picture of them with their award. The parents who are stuck at work because they couldn’t afford to take off will so appreciate this from you! I know if I were a parent I would like to see pictures of my kiddo’s accomplishments. Check with your district’s and school’s policy about taking pictures of students first. 

    If you aren’t using a communication app to reach out to your parents, what are you doing?  Pick an app and start using it consistently.  These apps make it super easy to contact parents and get parents involved. If you need more ideas about what to share on the app, download the Free Parent Communication App Cheat Sheet. The Cheat Sheet gives you over 20 ideas on what to post. Grab it now!

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  • 3 Reasons Why Teachers Should Use a Parent Communication App This School Year

    3 Reasons Why Teachers Should Use A Parent Communication App

    Teachers, do you use a communication app for your parent communication? Do you want more parent involvement? Find out how apps like; Class Dojo, Remind, SeeSaw, and Class Tag can improve your parent involvement! #parentinvolvement #Parentcommunicationapp #parentcommunication #classdojo #seesaw #remind #classtag

    Years ago I made the mistake of giving one of my parents my phone number. It was going well at first, I was able to talk to the parent when their kiddo was having issues or let them know when they were having a great day. It all went wrong when I got a call on the weekend from the parent who wanted to talk about their kiddo’s progress. I didn’t answer. I thought we had an unspoken rule that they wouldn’t use my number on my days off. Unfortunately, I did not learn my lesson. I gave it out again the next year and got another call on the weekend. After that, I changed my number and vowed to never give it out to parent again. I did some research and found out about communication apps just for teachers, and I have been hooked ever since.

    I know there many teachers who only want to communicate with parents from a school phone or email, but in my opinion, it is an ineffective and impersonal way to communicate and build relationships with your parents. Here are three reasons why you should use a communication app this school year.

    Quick & Convenient Parent Contact

    One thing I love about using an app is that I can reach out to parents quickly. I can literally send a text while my students are getting in their centers. No longer do I have to stop class to make a phone call about Little Johnny’s behavior. I don’t have to worry about calling a parent only to find out their voicemail is full. I just send a text, and they get my message.

    An Easy Way to Document Parent Communication

    Some of us work at schools that require us to prove we communicate with our parents. The communication apps that I have used (Remind and Class Dojo) both allow you to login using the computer. When you log in you can print off whatever you need.

    Then there are some of us that have difficult parents, and using the app can prevent any he said she said conversations. Everything is in black and white. Both Remind and Class Dojo have a feature that shows when parents view your message. This feature has gotten me out of the hot seat when parents complain to the principal that I haven’t told them about something that happened at school. These apps have been a lifesaver, especially when dealing with difficult parents.

    Posting Ideas for Parent Communication Apps Cheat Sheet

    Increased Parent Involvement

    If you work in a low-income area, you hear teachers complaining all the time about the lack of parent involvement. When I first started teaching, I thought that the parents didn’t care. I was so wrong. What I have found out over the years is that many parents want to be more involved but, they may not have time or know what to do.

    A communication app is an easy way to keep parents in the loop of what their kiddos are doing while they are at work. You can let them know what standards you are covering in class. Snap a pic of an anchor chart or a class project and boom! They feel like they’re in the know.

    We’ve all heard about the studies and research that indicates that the more that parents are involved in their education, the better they perform. If you communicate regularly about what you are teaching in class, some parents will make sure they are working on it at home. If you make it easy for your parents to know how they can help at home, they will. If your students are working on school stuff at home, of course, they will do better in school.

    Many of you know the benefits of using an app like Class Dojo or Remind, so you know it is life changing! Parent communication is something I think most teachers dread. Using an app makes it an easy and convenient way to talk to your parents regularly. Download one now and get started! If you already use an app let me know which one you use and what you love about it! I’m all about trying something new! Don’t forget to grab your copy of the Free Parent Communication App Cheat Sheet. Once you start using the Cheat Sheet, you’ll never run out of things to share with your parents!

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