Good communication is essential in any relationship, whether it is employer to employee, spouse to spouse, or teacher to student (or student’s parents). In my time as an educator, I’ve seen what a difference good communication can make. When communication channels are open between parents, students, and teachers, students have increased motivation for learning, improved behavior, more regular attendance, and a more positive attitude about school.
Back to school is a great time to build up these communication channels, since so much needs to be discussed at this time of year. At our school, we collect health information, addresses, phone numbers, birthdays, and transportation information.
As a teacher, you also need to help students transition smoothly into a new class schedule, routines, and teacher expectations. Here are some great ways to ensure that your communication—with both parents and students—gets off to the right start:
1. Take advantage of in-person events when possible.
At Long Elementary, we have a Meet the Teacher night prior to school starting. I take great pride in building relationships with my students and their parents. This benefits both the students and parents by providing an avenue of constant support for their children. Parents also become more confident about the value of their school involvement, and they develop a greater appreciation for the work the school does.
2. Be clear about classroom expectations from the start.
I use the first week of school to establish routines and model expectations for my students. I am very specific and concise with directions, so they know exactly what is expected of them. I have our classroom expectations posted in the classroom where they can be seen by all students, and we devote time on the first day of school to reading and discussing them. We also brainstorm as a class and see if there is anything else students think we need to add to the list of general classroom rules. When students have a part in creating classroom policy, it gives them ownership of their behavior and more motivation to follow the rules, since they helped to write them.
I am also in constant communication with parents from Day 1. I use a parent-teacher communication app, Bloomz, to make daily contact with parents by sending frequent reminders of daily homework, attendance, and behavior. This is one of the routines and expectations that I establish during the first few weeks of school. Students see that their parents and I are a team, that we will be in constant communication, and that we will support the classroom expectations. I always keep the correspondence positive and focused on a growth mindset.