Meaningful Relationships with Parents

Can you believe another school year is upon us?  One of the most important parts to our jobs is forming relationships with our students and families.   For most of us, forming relationships with out students is the part that comes a little easier to us.  Dr. James Comer says, "No significant learning happens without significant relationships."

I have this poster right by my desk at school as a daily reminder to me about my relationships. In stretching that thinking a tad further, I believe by teaming up with parents, we can take that "significant" learning to a whole other level! Sometimes parent relationships are not possible due to circumstances out of our control.  This post is intended to encourage you in those parental relationships where forming relationships is a possibility.   

Tip #1 - Create a Positive Mindset

Parents give us their best everyday; they give us their babies!    When your own child comes home upset, you are upset.  When your child gets in the car with a great smile, it lights up your face too.  We can't help it as parents; our kiddos are part of us! We want what is best for them in every situation.  As teachers, if we wrap our minds around the fact that each of our students is someone else's "best", it will help us in preparing our hearts and adjusting our attitude for each day.

Tip #2 - Communication is Key

Communication is crucial for a creating meaningful relationships with parents.  Start off at the beginning of the year setting up a system for communication.  Each teacher handles communication differently.  Some teachers send home daily folders and communication logs, some send weekly newsletters, and still others send emails, use teacher websites or use programs like Remind101.  More than likely you will have several forms of communication.  Pick what works for you and remain consistent with communication.  If parents are expecting folders each Thursday and you cannot get them out on time, let them know.  A simple email will go a long way!  If a parent calls or contacts you, operate by the "rule of 24."  Get back to parents who have contacted you within 24 hours of receiving their message. In many cases, you can respond in just a few hours.

Tip #3 - Be the First! 
 More than likely over the course of a year, you will experience a situation at school with students where parents need to be notified.  Maybe a student was dishonest, maybe two students got into an argument, or maybe you said something unintentionally that had a negative effect on a child.  It is easy to sometimes sweep something under the rug and say to yourself, "I don't like confrontation, so I'll just let this go."At this point, ask yourself: "If this was my child, would I want to know?"  Parents want to hear from you when something occurs at school.  Many times parents will find out about an incident once their child gets home. At than point, all they have to go on is their child's perspective of what happened.   My tip: Be the first! Be the first one that parents hear from regarding any incident at school.  There are definitely times where you cannot contact parents until after school and that is still okay.  If there is a possibility to make contact with the parent[s] before the child gets home, do so.  Parents always appreciate a head's up.  By calling,  you have the opportunity to frame the situation and give details that their child will not have.

Tip #4 - Be More Than A Teacher

Creating relationships with parents and community is much more than your role as a teacher.  It is more about who you are as a person.  When you have conversations with parents, don't limit your conversations to just their child.  Get to know parents as people and what they are about as a family.  If you see a family at the grocery store or out to eat, go over and say hi. Always remain professional in your conversations with parents, but be friendly, approachable, and let parents know who you are as a person. {I would be remiss by not mentioning the next sentence, especially for our new teacher friends: Don't confuse my above few sentences for "being friends" with parents.  I think you can be friendly, but I do not advocate for becoming close friends with parents of students in your class.}

Tip #5 - Learn How to Manage Crucial Conversations

One of the best books I have read is Crucial Conversations.  In the book, the authors frame a crucial conversation as one with high stakes, varying opinions, and where emotions are elevated.  There will be plenty of these conversations throughout your career in education. If we can learn to manage hard conversations, it helps us not only with parent relationships, but also with our co-workers and even family members at home. Sometimes the most important conversations are often times the hardest.

I hope you find these tips useful in starting off your successful school year!   Here is a sneak peek at an up and coming tool that will help you get off on the right foot with parent communication, I can't wait to share it with you! 

There are so many great tips to creating and fostering parent relationships, the ones above are just a start.  What have you found to be one of the best ways to maintain your parent relationships?

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  1. Hi, Whitney! Great Post! I follow you on Pinterest and was led to your blog! I look forward to reading more from you!


  2. Hi Alex! Thank you so much! I can't wait to check out your blog!

  3. This is a good post. This post gives truly quality information. I’m definitely going to look into it. Really very useful tips are provided here. Thank you so much. Keep up the good works.
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