Fast communication is essential when there is a school incident or unexpected concern--here are tips to help school leaders talk to parents.

6 tips to communicate with parents after a school incident

Fast communication is essential when there is a school incident or unexpected concern--here are tips to help school leaders talk to parents

We all know that working with kids and teenagers is hard. Rewarding, yes — but it can be tough. Students are in the process of maturing, and you often have to navigate sensitive situations that impact student development.

In trying times, it can be difficult to figure out the right way to communicate. How you handle and impart bad or sensitive news is incredibly important — it can be the difference between uniting your community or alienating students, parents, and even staff.

How to know when to send a message

Some negative instances, such as a student repeatedly showing up tardy to class, are best handled through a single phone call or message to the parents of that student (check out our Auto Notices feature, which automatically notifies parents for student-specific instances like tardies). Others, such as a public threat of violence or a student suicide, should be addressed on a larger scale.

Related content: Key components of a school safety plan

So how do you know when it’s appropriate to reach out to parents? An incident should be addressed in a grade-wide or school-wide message if it:

  • Is being widely discussed on social media in your school community and the facts are not clear
  • Targets a wide scope of students, such as members of a particular racial or ethnic group
  • Is part of a new and growing pattern that needs to be brought to parents’ attention
  • Involves inappropriate behavior that cannot be tolerated and needs to be addressed in order to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment and community

When deciding between contacting a parent, a small group of parents, or sending a grade-wide or school-wide message, put yourself in the parents’ perspective. Is the information you are about to share relevant to that parent and their child? Does it impact the grade level or culture of the entire school? These are important questions to consider when deciding whether or not to address the greater school community.

Related Content:

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The eSchool News School Safety Guide is here! It features strategies to help you create and maintain safe and secure learning environments, both physical and online. A new eSchool News Guide will launch each month–don’t miss a single one!

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