It's important to build positive connections between school and home. One way to help create this connection is through sharing positive news with parents on a regular basis. Also, creating a regular flow of positive communication makes it easier when a phone call home for misbehavior is needed.
Here are some ideas for how to get that good news into the hands and ears of parents:
1. Phone Calls - While this can be time consuming, especially for middle school or secondary teachers who can easily see 150+ students a day, it is one of the most effective strategies I've used. You might want to add the words "good news" or "great news" in your opening statement like, "Hi this is _____ calling from ____ with some great news about _____." More than one parents I have spoken with was quite confused at first. They assumed my call was just another in a line of "What Johnny did wrong today" calls. The positivity caught them off-guard, but after that phone call they were much more willing to work with me when Johnny did have a rough day.
2. Notes Home - It only takes a few seconds to jot a quick note to parents. If you want a more professional look, keep a stack of school notepads or sheets of paper with the school letterhead in your desk. While I like writing notes home, as they are quick, teachers are often left in the dark as to whether or not the letter actually made it home. That's why even better than a note home is...
3. Postcards Home - The first school I worked at had Good News Cards, which were simply postcards with our school logo and the words "Good News" written in large letters across the front. While notes home may or may not get there, these Good News Postcards were mailed to students houses - a guarantee that they'd at least get to the house! And who doesn't like to get actual mail these days? It is a rare occasion when we get something other than bills or junk mail. My principal was the driving force in regular communication with parents. Every month he would pass out 3 postcards (or more) to every staff member. We simply had to write the short note (the postcard size made this even easier), write the name of the student or parent on the address line, and drop them in his box. He then looked up and wrote in the students addresses himself to save teachers time - a great system!
4. Classroom Newsletters - Classroom newsletters help teachers communicate with parents as a whole by highlighting positive news about the entire class. Newsletters can be sent out weekly or monthly. They are a great way to keep parents informed about what students have accomplished and upcoming events.
5. Student Newsletters - Depending on the age of your students, these self-created newsletters can be brief or rather in-depth. I like this strategy because it allows students to show off their positive news to their parents, and it is easily tied in to language arts curriculum. Students create a monthly newsletter that can highlight what they have learned, goals for the next month, upcoming projects, etc. You can even have students create a small section titled "News From the Teacher" where you jot a quick, individual note home to parents.
Like everything in teaching, there is no "right way" to communicate with parents. You need to find the strategy that works best for your parents, your students, and you.
What ways do you communicate with parents? Please share below.