New research by Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield reveals a discouraging communication gap between parents and teachers that has potential to affect a child’s success. Teachers feel parents don’t communicate major changes in the home and parents feel teachers don’t share revealing details about their child’s behavior in the classroom.
To bridge the gap between what parents and teachers want to hear and what the two parties actually communicate, Grenny and Maxfield suggest both take action at the beginning of the school year.
1. Over-communicate. Use the beginning of the school year to build and strengthen your relationship with the teacher. Share your child’s interests, talents, and background that will help the teacher connect with and best serve them. During the year, update the teacher on any changes in their life, home, or friend group that could affect the mental, emotional or physical health of your child—such as illness, death, marital status of parents, etc.
2. Swap contact details. Make sure the teacher knows the best time and method to contact you.
3. Partner with your child’s teacher. Reach out. If you have a concern about your child, don’t wait for a teacher to bring it up to you. If you have a question, ask. Teachers work incredibly hard to provide the best for students and often must look after hundreds of them. And don’t forget: a simple thank you goes a long way in strengthening the partnership between teachers and parents.
1. Make a call. Use calls or home visits before the school year begins to build and strengthen the relationship. Introduce yourself and share something specific and positive about the child’s academic and character strengths. Share your vision of the teacher-parent relationship as a partnership that is crucial to the child’s growth. Invite parents to share critical information with you and explain the best time and method to get in contact with you. Consider giving the parent a postcard or visual reminder.
2. Send a family survey. Collect essential information about both the student and the family. Learn the student’s strengths, hobbies and unique talents. Ask about the parents and other adults in the child’s life. Learn about family history and family priorities that will help you better connect with and serve their child.
3. Invite parents. Don’t wait until report card conferences to invite parents into the school. Plan a family academic night, math night or literacy night. Increase attendance at these conferences by planning early and using all available methods of communication—the school website, newsletter, etc.
4. Share gratitude and praise with parents regularly. Use quick texts, notes, and emails of gratitude or praise. These build a deepening sense of trust. Keep an open mind about family situations and intentions.
View the results of our study in the infographic below or download a copy for yourself.