I went to a professional development meeting yesterday and the presenter was great. We were discussing starting the year off and the importance of creating strong relationships with our students and their families in order to have a year that runs smoothly.
It got me thinking about how my own approach to creating relationships with parents has evolved over time. I am still new-ish to teaching (this will be my third year) and the longer I teach the more time I spend reaching out to parents.
I have such a great respect for my parents! I teach at a charter school in a very urban community in a low income neighborhood. All of my parents work very hard to provide for their children and for most their child's education is a BIG priority. I am lucky in that regard! I want them to know how much I care about their students and want to keep them informed in regards to their child's progress academically, behaviorally and socially. But with all of the other demands I face as a teacher coupled with the language barriers and crazy work schedules of my parents, building a relationship takes a conscious effort on my part. I do not work at a school where students are walked on to the schoolyard and parents are waiting after school to speak with the teacher. That is just not reality for me.
Anyway, I just wanted to share a few ways that I found to build a relationship with the parents...
1) "Getting To Know Your Child"
Along with the traditional parent letter, I send home this form at the beginning of the year. I was really touched by the thoughtful words from many of the parents. I was truly able to get to know a different side of each student and it really opened the lines of communication with parents.
2) Weekly Reports
I send home these quick little reports every Friday. This little check-in totally prevents any big surprises when grades come out/parent conference time. I love, love this resource from Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6. You can find this freebie in her TpT store here. Added bonus---Stephanie has a Spanish version as well! Really helps me since at least half of my parents speak Spanish and I do not.
3) Good Notes Home
I am sure there is a cuter name for these little guys but in my class we call them good notes and you would be surprised at how hard my big bad 5th graders will work to earn one of these little things!
I use a clip chart for behavior management and when I child has an excellent day and makes it to the top of the behavior chart they receive a note to take home to their families. About half way through last year...after 6 months of scrambling to complete notes before the 3 o'clock bell, I came up with these little guys. I usually try to add a little more of a personal note on the back but this little template is a huge time saver. :)
To get a copy of the notes click here.
So that's what I do. What do you do????? I am always looking for ways to build those strong relationships and help students find success in all areas of their lives.