Communication with the Parents

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by Deedah86, Apr 29, 2011.

  1. Deedah86

    Deedah86 Rookie

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    Apr 29, 2011

    I am a first year Resource Room teacher and I have a very difficult time keeping in touch with parents throughout the year with all of my other responsibilities. I am also extremely shy when it comes to parents. I could talk all day to my students but when it comes to meetings and phone calls with parents, I get SO flustered, it's embarassing.

    How often do you call the parents? Do you call them for good and bad remarks? Do you communicate through the child's agenda?

    My plan in the beginning was to communicate through my students' agendas but they NEVER remember to bring them to my room, so now I just make them get them if the student misbehaves.

    Any pointers about communicating to parents for a new teacher? I want to get better about it for next year.
     
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  3. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Apr 29, 2011

    Hey there! So, I think the earlier in the year, and the more positive you are up front, the easier it is. If the first few calls/communications you make are positive, it will help establish a positive relationship, and you'll feel more comfortable going to them for any other issues.

    Think about friends you might call or email - it's probably not a big deal for you, because you are familiar with them and have an expectation of how they will react. If you have a more established relationship with them earlier in the year, and for positive things, then future conversations might be easier.

    I think communicating through the agenda is okay for smaller things, but I wouldn't use it as a replacement for bigger communications, of course.
     
  4. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Apr 29, 2011

    For almost all of my parents there is a language barrier so I have to use an interpreter. That can be frustrating! Due to having that extra step I rarely call parents. I update them at conferences and at IEP meetings, and I send home progress reports four times per year. I have our esl aide who is bilingual (she is wonderful!) call parents to remind them of IEP meetings a few days before hand. If I have a larger issue at hand, we'll call the parent together so that she can interpret for me. If I could I would use e-mail more frequently. Is this something you could do with your parents? I think that would be sufficient for smaller day to day things (updates, etc.) I would save phone calls for any major issues. It seems that would get rid of the being "flustered" issue. If you feel like you're getting flustered during meetings, it might help to review the iep and even practice or review what you're going to say in the meeting. If you feel really prepared and like you definitely know your stuff, you shold feel and appear more confident. For phone calls you could even jot down a few notes of what you want to cover and then look at that while you're talking.
     
  5. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Apr 29, 2011

    You can certainly write a script - and for contact by phone, you can perfectly well have it in front of you. Remarkably many people find that having the script available means they don't have to use it.
     
  6. etcetera

    etcetera Rookie

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    Apr 29, 2011

    I teach inter-related K-2. I call all of my parents as soon as I know who I am going to have to introduce myself and set the tone for the year. I have daily home-school folders for all of my kindergarten students with just a kind of 0-10 rating scale for following routines, keeping hands to themselves, doing work,etc, and a place to let parents know what we are working on. I start these the first week of school. Usually the first week-bunches of positive notes in the folders and I try to make a positive phone call early on. Then as the 2nd-3rd week rolls around and the students begin to test the waters-the parents aren't defensive when I report misbehavior because we already have a positive rapport. By the time my kiddos move to 1st and 2nd my parents have a trust base and I can communicate with weekly signed papers and phone calls/conferences for major things. I am naturally a shy person too-I still blush when everyone looks at me in an IEP meeting-and I've been teaching for years. However, try not to be too shy about your parents-they can be your greatest resource with your kids. I enjoy working with parents almost as much as my little guys.
     
  7. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Apr 30, 2011

    Ask the parents how they would prefer to be contacted. Perhaps report weekly to the parents on their progress, good things they did, things of that nature.
     
  8. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Apr 30, 2011

    I think a script is a wonderful idea to help you through a phone call. Even if you don't write one out fully, you certainly want to have a small list in front of you of what you want to cover in the call.

    I think sometimes, too, we pressure ourselves to have these big elaborate conversations with parents. Unless there is a specific problem that needs to be addressed, try to keep your phone call short and sweet... a minute or two at most. They are busy, you are busy... just make that original contact!
     
  9. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    May 3, 2011

    I rarely make phone calls unless it's for something really specific. For general classroom news, I try to send out a monthly newsletter. For daily news, each student keeps a "parent teacher communication journal" aka half of a spiral, and I jot down specific concerns, successes, etc. at the end of each day. I'll also mail student success postcards home periodically. "Bobby's doing such a great job in reading - wow!!" that sort of thing. I also keep our classroom website up to date with lots of news and pictures.
     
  10. inhisgrip20

    inhisgrip20 Comrade

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    Jun 22, 2011

    Deedah,

    I've been teaching for 6 years and I still get a little shy around parents at first. I'm shy in general so it makes sense. With that said, I typically have the same students for up to 6 years so I get to know the parents pretty well (some more than others).

    I don't make alot of phone calls unless there is an emergency or urgent matter to discuss. I communicate daily through the student's agenda and the parents initial each night and can write notes back if they need to. I also use text messaging and email quite a bit. If I have a short little story about something funny their child did that day or an accomplishment they made, I will text them a quick note. Sometimes I'll even take a picture and text it to them if there child is doing something interesting. I've found text messaging to be a quick means of communicating.

    I think what others have said about starting the year with positive communications is great advice. This way the parents see that you aren't just "picking" on their kid if you call with something negative.
     
  11. d12brown

    d12brown Rookie

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    Jun 22, 2011

    I use a weekly communication folder, that way communication can be both ways. The involved parents make sure it comes back every Monday with a signature. The less involved only write something when they have a problem. Sigh.

    I also ask each parent early on what the best method for communication is. I have one that asked to be emailed and another who likes phone calls. Personally, I like emails b/c I can keep a record of it and it can be short and sweet without the chit chat that some parents want. I call/write/email for as much positive as I do negative. I don't want parents to dread hearing from me.
     
  12. karebear76

    karebear76 Habitué

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    Jun 22, 2011

    I have a hard time with this as well. I have the best intentions but it all falls apart during the year.

    In my 11 years of teaching, I've had email contact with 2 parents total. Most of my parents don't have access to computers. Phoning doesn't always work because they don't have phones, or there's no answer. I will not give out my personal numbers b/c I like to keep home & work separate. In an emergency I would use my cell phone to contact parents but otherwise, my life is my own after school.

    I'm hoping to use a clipboard system next year to keep better track of things, one of which will be parent contacts. I might even address a certain number of post cards in the beginning to keep track of sending things out. I will be sending out a welcome postcard over the summer, to invite everyone to Open House.

    I send a weekly newsletter as well but it is generic information, not specific to child.
     
  13. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    Jun 23, 2011

    I send home a letter to parents at the start of the year and ask them how they wish to be contacted. I am lucky because many have email and this is a fast form of communication. Since my students are all upper classmen, my parental contact is maybe a few times a quarter. I take one prep, sit at my desk and make phone calls for those that like that method. Use a script, keep it short, sweet. I leave a message if someone doesnt pick up the phone...Joey has been doing great, etc. Just wanted to let you know. Feel free to contact me with any questions.
     

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