Building and Keeping a Relationship with Parents
When I first started teaching, making connections with parents wasn’t something I ever thought I’d have to work at. I naively assumed, I’d know all the parents, we work well together all year long, and everything would be pretty effortless.
I QUICKLY learned that was not the case. There were some parents that I never saw or heard from, and some parents that I could not seem to get to like me. Needless to say, this made my first year of teaching a little stressful (on top of everything else).
Coming up with ways to connect with parents over the years has been a mission of mine. It definitely takes a lot of work to cultivate strong relationships with my students’ parents, but it is SO worth it.
I used to assume that parents that were not involved in their student’s academic careers simply didn’t care. I know now that language, culture, work schedules, and insecurities can play a huge part in that. I know now that it is MY job to reach out and continue to reach out and connect throughout the year.
One of the easiest things I do to start a relationship is to ask them about their child. I make sure to send home information sheets asking questions about the type of learner their child is, what motivates them, and what their goals for their child are. I want to establish that I value their opinion and care about their child.
I also gain my parents’ trust by allowing them to get to know me and keeping a line of communication open. I send home Connection Cases that I make. They are just pencil cases that are full of notes for parents to send to me to address any questions, comments, or concerns they have. They feel comfortable communicating with me because I encourage them to.
Gaining a parents’ trust and having a positive relationship makes conversations about struggles, behavior, or classroom issues much more successful. I like to make my parents feel like we are a part of a team and they really respond to that.
At the end of the day, we ARE a team. We both want what’s best for the student, so working together only makes sense.
I keep in touch about EVERYTHING. Even if they don’t always respond, it lets them know what I’m up to and how much I care. In my experience, when parents don’t feel connected to teachers, they make assumptions about us! They assume we don’t care about their child, or that we don’t like their child (or them). This can make phone calls home and conferences very difficult.
Reaching out only during the beginning of the year isn’t enough! I use a connection log to track how often I interact with parents. Whether it’s a note, an e-mail, a phone call, or a meeting, I try to connect with a few parents each week. I do a few at a time so I don’t overwhelm myself. Notes are the easiest for me. I make positive phone calls home the first month of school, and then mostly stick to notes and e-mail for the rest of year, unless a phone call is necessary.
I intentionally reach out to report WAY more positive news than negative. When I actually have to call or talk about something negative, they know I have their child’s best interest at heart because of the RELATIONSHIP we’ve built. It makes the conversation so easy to have. If I only call to complain about their child’s behavior, eventually they are going to stop answering the phone.
I send home notes ALL THE TIME! I thank parents for little things and big things. Anything to make them feel connected and included. Even if it’s a parent I never hear back from, I still reach out and check in with them. At the very least, the student sees my effort and knows that I care about them and their parent.
I hope you enjoyed these ideas! I finally compiled all of my notes, forms, and connection cases into a printable resource. It’s available now on TpT!
Celebrating Class Birthdays on a Teacher Budget
I don’t know about you guys, but when a birthday comes around in my classroom, I love to celebrate it (if that’s allowed in that particular student’s culture).
I WISH I could give each student some awesome gift to take home and cherish; a toy, a book, or a new hat, but that is definitely out of the question when I average 24-28 students per year!
I always want to do SOMETHING though, and the answer to my prayers was at Dollar Tree!
The best solution that leaves me happy and my students excited and feeling special costs less than $20! Like for the whole year!
WHAT I BUY: I buy two of the decorative balloon weights, that my son can be seen holding in the picture above. On the student’s birthday (or the Friday before, if it falls on a weekend) I let them place the weight on their desk for the day. It is so SIMPLE, but they absolutely LOVE IT! Of course rules are given about not playing with it, or other friends moving it, but they are always SO good about making sure it’s not a distraction. I buy two in case there are two birthdays that fall on the same day.
WHAT I BUY: I buy a few packages crazy straws. All kids love crazy straws, am I right? They are so excited to have something to take home and use time and time again. There are 8 in a pack and I pick up 4 to be safe.
WHAT I BUY: I buy foil tiaras! It makes the kids feel really special to have a shiny sign on their heads that screams, “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!” Who wouldn’t? I let students wear them in class and to specials, but not to recess or lunch so they don’t get lost or stolen. There are 4 in a pack so I buy 8.
That’s what works in my classroom! I hope you enjoyed this idea!
Social Studies for K – 3 (August & September)
Lanesha Tabb from Education with an Apron approached me last year with the BEST idea ever! We were both feeling really disappointed and upset about things going on around the world. As educators and parents, we wanted to do more to help, but we weren’t quite sure what we could do. Lanesha told me about her vision: creating a teaching resource that would inspire the students that crossed our paths to be compassionate, informed, and empathetic citizens in our world.
We immediately got to work choosing topics, cultures, people, and stories that we felt needed to be heard, shared, and explored. As we worked, we found ourselves wondering why WE never learned most of these things when we were in school. We knew we were on to something GREAT!
Lanesha and I recently finished our August and September units. August is more of a social studies kick-off to get students excited about what’s to come and to find out what they already know about some topics already.
We know that the first month of school can be crazy! Fitting everything in can be overwhelming, so August is more laid back than the other months. We included everything you’ll need to make engaging social studies anchor charts and get students thinking about what social studies really is.
Students will create a social studies flipbook after previewing an ebook that previews the ENTIRE year and shows all of the topics students can look forward to.
Kindergarten – third grade students learning about sociology, economics, civics, geography, and history? What?! Each of our units includes 4 out of the 5 areas. We intended for each area to be focused on for one week. The monthly units include ebooks to preview each topic, differentiated k-2 reading passages, discussion questions, comprehension questions, projects, anchor charts, interactive vocabulary, and meaningful craftivies! You can choose to do them all or pick and choose what works for you!
Each of our monthly units includes an “at a glance” page to help you plan out your social studies lessons. A teacher guide is also included. It includes a teaching script, ideas for thinking maps, and much more, like quizzes and books to add to lessons!
Here are our topics and most of the items included for September:
We hope are you are as EXCITED to introduce these monthly units to your students as we are! Celebrating heritage months, people from different cultures, and having discussions about the world is one of the greatest gifts we can give our students.
Here are some links to check out other units we have posted, and a FREEBIE too:
Lanesha Tabb and Naomi O’Brien