Monday, July 15, 2013

Getting Parents On Your Side

I use to be that teacher that would phone you if your child was misbehaving in class, or go outside after school to speak to you if your child was not getting their work done.  I knew that parents would cringe when they saw the school’s phone number pop up on their caller id or they would see me walking towards them after school.  Then, 6 years ago I had a child of my own and knew that I needed to change the relationship (if you can call it that) I had with the parents of my students. 

This past year has been the best year for parent support in my classroom.  I have done a few simple things this year that I had not done in previous years that I think has contributed to having the immense amount of support in my room.  

     1.  I have yard duty every morning outside for 20 minutes before school.  I take this opportunity to greet every parent that comes onto our school ground.  A simple good morning and a warm smile is all it takes.  For the parents of my students, I may have a short conversation with them.  I never speak about their child’s progress or behavior during these morning conversations.  This is about them getting to know me and me getting to know them.  No pressure, and no cringing when I walk towards them.

    2.  Every Tuesday and Thursday I invite my student’s parents into our classroom and learning commons for the first half an hour of school to read, learn to do something on the iPad, look at the work their child has created using the iPads, or even play a board game.  I had 21 students last year in my class and I would have at least 10 parents on any given day come in to support their child.  I would also take this opportunity to invite the parents to stay on occasion to watch a video we had created or talk about a project we were beginning.  I also tried to schedule Skype calls with authors or other classes at this time so parents could get a glimpse of some of the things we were doing in our class.  The last day of school this year was a Thursday and I had 12 parents at school wanting to read with their children.
Having tea and cookies during the Mother's Day Tea

3.  During the year I had several occasions that I invited the parents in to celebrate their children and them as parents.  During our Cultures Unit we had a pot luck where the parents were invited to bring in a traditional dish from their heritage and were invited to stay for lunch.  We had a Mother’s Day Tea where the students showered their mom’s with love and attention.  On Father’s Day we had a similar day for Dad’s, where we played outside and provided snacks and quiet time with their Dad’s.  I have taught most of my students for 2 years and had met fathers that day that I had never met before.  There were Dad’s
Some quiet time during our Father's Day Celebration
skipping with their daughters and finding quiet benches outside to sit and talk with each other.  It was a fantastic day!

      4.  I tried very hard to call parents this year for good news items and if a student in my class was away for more than a couple of days, I would call to see if they were ok.
       5.  I also think it is wonderful that I have taught these children for 2 years and will be their teacher again next year.  On the last day of school, I asked the parents that were reading with their kids to come into the classroom a couple minutes early and I told the class and the parents that I would be teaching them again next year.  I was a bit nervous about the reaction from both the parents and the children. (3 years with the same teacher!!!)  The smiles and cheers confirmed that I had nothing to worry about.  

      I am part of these families.   I am helping to raise these children.  Their parents and I are on the same team.  They know that I would do anything for these children and in return they have supported me in the classroom and for that I am truly thankful.


  1. Lovely article. At the end of every single year I wish I had done more to connect with families. At the beginning of every single year I plan to do more. It's the middle of summer lay-off right now, and I am mapping out my plans & drafting some letters home.

    Really like your Tuesday/Thursday idea.


  2. Love the ideas presented in this article

  3. I called a parent of a child who usually got into trouble, just to tell her that I was very impressed with her daughter that day- -she asked me to wait a moment so she could check to see if her phone was broke! The child entered my class smiling the next day, and seemed to try harder from that point on. It took such a small amount of my time to make this family so proud!