Parent-teacher communication - and parent-teacher relationships - are extremely important. A strong classroom discipline plan demands that you bring the parents onto your team and keep them informed.
In general, all parents want to know how their kids are doing...and they really want to know about classroom interventions and behavior.
If a behavior has resulted in an escalation to the office for endangering the safety of others (bullying, fighting, contraband), then one way or another the parents need to know...wouldn't you want to know if your child was involved in these incidents?
So if the office isn't calling the parents as part of the classroom discipline plan - and sometimes even if they are - you need to be sure that they are brought into the parent-teacher communication loop.
When I use the word "escalation," I am broadly referring to the involvement of any other adults in the classroom behavior management strategies of students - parents, principal, assistant principal, counselor, etc.
Bringing the parents into the loop also maximizes the deterrent effect of whatever discipline in the classroom is under way; a kid naturally makes the connection..."I'll get in trouble at school and home." If the parents are ones to take this seriously, this can help.
"I've been expecting your call..."
Usually parents operate on the "no news is good news" principle when it comes to their kids' behavior and parent-teacher communication.
If the school phones, most parents are going to assume it is bad news.
Try to counteract this a bit every once in awhile by calling or e-mailing to tell a parent that their child demonstrated some great behavior.
It's hard to make time for this, but it's important.
OK. Calling parents with news about their child's behavior. Two words:
This is absolutely something that you need to learn to be OK with. You don't have to love it but if teaching is your profession, then talking to parents comes with the territory.
TIP: You really need to call on behavior items...e-mail or a letter is a last resort for when three of your calls have not been returned.
Even if you don't feel like one, you are an authority figure to many, many parents. This is particularly true if the parents didn't have great student-teacher relationships with school when they were young. Perhaps they found themselves being judged as not measuring up when they were kids, or were made to feel inadequate by their former teachers...
...and now, just like happened in their past, here is a teacher calling to talk about some kind of classroom behavior that is within their ability to influence. Do everything you can to step down off the authority pedestal and deal at their level of understanding.
Parent-teacher communication doesn't have to be scary if you follow a few simple guidelines outlined in Part 2.
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