Communication with parents or guardians is a key cornerstone to behavior management. It is something that generally isn’t covered thoroughly in teacher preparation programs, but it IS something that you will be doing. This is the one expectation that staff and parents have, but no one tells you EXACTLY how do it. Here are three tips to assist you:
First, always be the one to initiate the communication link.
If you have an open house night, this is the perfect time to meet parents and introduce yourself. This can be followed up by a letter home on the first day of school. The letter should contain a brief introduction of yourself (degrees, positions, certifications) and as well as your goals for the school year. You will also want to Include a communication card that asks parents for their contact info and preference to be contacted. For myself, I would rather receive an email from a teacher because I am busy individual and it is written in black and white what transpired. This is useful for reference. Some teachers may use Remind Me or Class Dojo to keep in touch with parents. There are many different technology tools available to assist you with sending mass emails or text messages to update individuals. If you prefer, you can stick to email, letters, or phone calls.
Second, make it a necessity to be positive.
Have you ever had a job where the boss always seemed to point out the wrong? DIdn’t you become frustrated with this treatment? Parents feel this same way with teachers who only contact them regarding failing grades or misbehavior. Make it a point to call home once in awhile with a glowing review or send a note/email with good news. In my school, we are required to send home two postcards per week with a positive achievement for a student. You must complete one for all your students. For some children, this will be easy. With others, it will cause you to look past the misbehavior or failing grades to find the good. Some of the parents and students still have postcards I sent from four years ago!
Lastly, if it has to be bad, make it constructive and offer suggestions to turn it around.
Don’t wait to contact parents/guardians until it is uncontrollable and/or irreversible. This doesn’t mean to call home on the first mistake or issue. Document it. See if you can determine the cause. In my classroom, I don’t call on the first day, but I do at the end of the third day. This gives me a chance to determine that the behavior is not just an “off” day and establishes a pattern. Unless the behavior is extreme. Then, proceed as needed. When addressing parents/guardians, do not say. “David is a terrible student. He throws pencils and runs around the room.” Do say, “David appears to be having trouble staying focused and maintaining appropriate behavior. There have been issues with him throwing items. I was wondering if you have noticed any of this behavior at home or any reason he may be acting like this.” Do state techniques you have used and ones that you are going to attempt. Get parent input. A plan of action should be developed between yourself and the parents/guardians. Older students can be included in the action plan.
These tips will assist you in dealing with the most difficult of students…and parents/guardians! Do you have any tips or tricks that assist you with school to home communication?