It is important you communicate often with your students' parents.
If conferences are not possible, there are many other ways to keep the parents informed, either for individual students or for the whole class.
- Telephone calls (remember these calls can be made for good news about a particular student, not just when there is a problem).
- Leave a message on the parents' answering machine if you have some good news to share. If it's about a particular problem the student is having, it is better to ask the parents to return your call and give a time when you are available to receive phone calls.
- Write a message in the student's assignment book and ask for the parents to sign it once it is read.
- It is best to set up conferences with a parent and student if there is a disciplinary problem, so communication is clearer and includes voice tone and facial expressions. This will also give you a chance to show some of the student's work, including good work samples, prior to showing/discussing the areas of the work you have concerns about (if behavioral related you can address it with positive examples prior to giving negative ones).
- Keep a log of all the calls made whether it's for good or bad news.
- Try to call all your students' parents during the first two weeks of school, making it a welcome call. Introduce yourself and ask if they have any questions. This way you can establish good rapport with the parents, and often be able to get a few of the questions about the new year established prior to any incidents that may later occur. This does take time, but in the long run can be a big help.
- Write the parents a note and let them know you're interested. Try to encourage them to not be hesitant about calling you and meeting with you.
- Remember most parents have cell phones on which you can leave messages. Some will even give you their email address where you can send them a written note.
- When having a conference you should not sit behind your desk as this implies a "position of superiority". If you do not have a big enough table, put a few desks together so you can all converse and share.
- Write weekly or monthly newsletters to send out.
Ideas for newsletters:
An ongoing open relationship with the parents is essential in helping with students' progress.
- Inform or remind parents of any upcoming classroom events or tests (classroom trips, celebrations, parties, etc).
- News about any community events, resources, concerts, plays...
- Explanation of your grading policies, and ways you assess and evaluate work (including a copy of any rubric you might be using).
- Suggestions on ways parents can be of help at home.
- Invitations to open house or special classroom activity.
- Any special articles you want to share.
- Inform them on the subject or units you are presently studying such as: explorers, early American Indians, astronomy, division, etc...