An effective communicator gets their point or information across while maintaining a productive relationship with their audience.
The best way to avoid misunderstandings with parents/guardians is to have ongoing, clear lines of communication from the the time their child is admitted to the learning institution. The more you keep them informed about classroom news alongside the events in school, the more they’ll feel like a part of the team.
In the end, the result is that parents/guardians who are supportive, understanding, and a little less likely to jump to negative conclusions.
Let parents know that you value their questions and concerns and would never minimize them by responding “on the fly.” Explain that in order to give them your undivided attention, you’ve set aside specific times to talk. It’s important to decide when you want to take and return phone calls, text messages or emails and when you are available for school conferences, and to actually be available during those times. Post these times and procedures and send them home with your welcome letter or first newsletter. Earmarking office hours and sticking to them eliminates the need parents may feel to grab your ear in the parking lot or to monopolize your attention outside your classroom door before or after school.
Instead, be prepared to take some time to think and get back to the parent. For example, “You’ve made a great point, Mrs. Smith, and this is an important issue. I’d really like to give it some serious thought and get back to you on it.” Then make it a point to tell the parent exactly when he or she can expect a response: “Let’s schedule another meeting/phone conference for Friday. Does that work for you?” This allows you time to consider the issue, develop possible solutions, and consult with colleagues, administrators, or other professionals, if necessary.
Avoid discussing students with other parents or engaging in any negative faculty-room talk. Also make this a rule for parent/guardian volunteers who spend time in the classroom. Inform the parents/guardians that everyone has good days and bad days. If a volunteer witnesses a “bad day” — any negative or challenging behaviour on the part of a student in the class — that particular situation remains in the classroom and confidential.
Parents become extremely upset when the first sign of trouble comes in the form of a progress report halfway into the marking period or worse yet, on the report card itself. I always try to share even small concerns early on, rather than waiting and then dropping a bombshell.
When presenting a concern to parents, ALWAYS be ready to explain what strategies you’ve already used to address the issue and what new strategies you are considering. Parents don’t want concerns dropped in their laps without at least a tentative action plan, which you will adjust based on their input.
If you keep these communication ground rules in mind, parents will thank you, and your life as a teacher/administrator will be much easier!
Adapted from Scholastic
Start Communicating Effectively in your Institution.
Download Sikizi for Schools