There are five major influences on our students: home, school, church, TV, and peers. When you consider the time that a child spends with each of these throughout his lifetime, the school and the home definitely have the potential to be the most powerful. Thus, these two institutions must talk to each other, must work together, and must coordinate efforts.
Teachers are the representatives of the school. Most parents and teachers want the same thing. Granted, there are some teachers who don’t care, and there are some parents who don’t care, but they are in the minority. The majority want to help the child to become a mature, responsible, thinking, moral adult. When we understand this simple assumption, it is much easier to unite our efforts and work together.
As a teacher you should take the initiative to make sure this relationship between the home and the school is:
P—Pleasing to God
- Stay close to the Lord.
- Portray a love for what you are
“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Colossians 3:23
- Pray for parents and students.
- Ask God for wisdom in relating to
parents and students.
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” James 1:5
- Communication is complex, and people are complicated. Effective communication takes work, insight, and practice.
- As teachers, we should work to accommodate our students’ parents anytime we can. Consider giving out your home or cell number and ask that parents try not to call after nine in the evening, but if they ever have a question or problem to not hesitate to call. Most parents will not abuse this.
- A discipline problem which merits parental involvement requires immediate attention. The teacher should make every effort to contact the parents prior to the child contacting the parents. This has several benefits. First, it allows the teacher an opportunity to talk with calm and rational parents. Second, you can be sure that the parents receive the whole and accurate story. If the student tends to exaggerate or bend the truth, you have diffused an erroneous story. Parents appreciate it, and you are more likely to obtain their support.
- Keep parents informed of their students’ behavior at school. This communication should include both negative and positive behavior. Telephone calls expressing improvement are even more beneficial than those reporting problems. View each positive contact as an investment which may save you an unlimited amount of time and anxiety in dealing with future discipline problems. Such accountability relieves the teacher from being viewed as the enemy. Once this relationship is established, parents are more likely to respond positively to discipline procedures.
- Send regular positive remarks about your students’ character or academic abilities. There should be a positive interaction with each family in your class at least once a month. A visit to the home makes a very positive statement to the parents.
- Make sure parents are not surprised by finding out their student is failing once it is too late for corrective action. Parents should be notified at the first sign that their student is not doing well academically. If a child is failing or did not turn in a project, call the parent early about these things. Don’t assume they know.
- Have regular parent-teacher conferences—once a semester or once a quarter is good. Give much thought to the scheduling of these meetings and try to hold them when it is convenient for parents.
- Keep accurate records of attendance, tardies, grades, communication, and assignments.
- Follow up on homework. Homework should never go unchecked because that sends a message that homework is not important.
- Always be in your classroom before the first child arrives; your teaching time begins there with that child.
- Lessons should be planned at least two weeks in advance; allow for some flexibility; know where your lesson is going and what you must accomplish for the day.
- Constantly be looking for ways to nourish this relationship. Parents should never feel that they are an inconvenience. You should always be approachable.
- Nurturing takes time, but take the time to earn the parents’ confidence and trust because when you cultivate a sense of partnership with parents, you magnify your potential to influence your students.
- Give small gifts at birthdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Parents love pictures of their children, especially when the picture is presented in a creative way.
- Be highly visible at school activities when able.
- Report card and progress report (half-way thru the quarter) notes should be well-thought through—these comments are written and will be permanent. Think of comments other than Good Job! Improving! You worked hard! Best yet! Neatly done! Accurate!
T—Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!
- Parents and teachers are on the same team. You are both pulling for their children and want to help them succeed.
- Ask parents to help you (and their children) by supporting homework goals and motivating their children to study.