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Communication is Key

Communication between teachers and parents* is key to improving student success. When open dialogue is established, it’s easier for the key adults in a child’s life to be partners in education and be better equipped to nurture the child. Teachers, we need to view parents as valuable assets and treat them as such.

When we communicate well with parents, their attitude towards the school will be better and the students will reflect that attitude. This will positively effect the students’ perspective towards school personnel and peers, increase motivation towards schoolwork and homework, and improve behavior and attendance. It will also help students recognize that the key adults in their life are a team working together to support them.

Communication strategies:

  • Pray for each student and their family and email them when you’re praying for them specifically and invite them to share prayer requests.
  • Be authentic with the families God has entrusted to your care. It will help build the trust and familiarity necessary for meaningful relationships.
  • Communicate routines for communication and homework at the beginning of the year. Let parents know the best ways to communicate with you (i.e. email, app, folders), and don’t be afraid to remind parents of this throughout the year.
  • Communicate behavioral expectations and consequences clearly at the beginning of the year and remind students of these after each break.
  • Give unsolicited positive comments about their children. This can be about grades, achievements, strengths, efforts, and positive behaviors. This will fill their bucket and ease any tension they might feel.
  • Assure parents that you’re not judging them when concerns are brought to the table about their children. Be prepared to offer assurance when medical professionals have something to say. Diagnoses are not a bad reflection on them as parents, but allow us to learn more about their child. Suggestions from medical professionals can serve as instructions on how we, the teachers and parents, can help nurture their child’s growth.
  • Set boundaries and time limits for yourself. Many meetings can be done in 15-30 minutes. Communicate both beginning and ending times. Respond to emails within 24 hours and when you can’t, communicate that with parents by setting up an “out of the office” response.
  • Follow up about progress if you met about a concern and ask about strategies used to address the concern at home. Perhaps you can implement them at school!
  • Be clear about your concerns and explain any educational jargon if you use it.
  • Show grace and love every time you communicate. Your communication is a witness of who we are as Lutheran educators.

In addition to communicating with parents, include them. Many parents want to support teachers. Allow them to. This can help increase touchpoints you have with key adults in your students’ lives and it can allow you to focus on being an effective teacher. Some tasks might include copying, cutting, or even shopping for supplies.

Many conflicts can be avoided with clear and positive communication from the beginning of the school year, but when conflicts arise, remember to listen because empathy can resolve problems, find common ground and common goals to work towards, and put the best construction on everything. Treat complaints as gifts that give you insight into how someone feels, how something could be improved, or how to restore a relationship.

Sometimes you might get trapped into thinking it’s easier to not engage parents, but long-term, it is best to communicate well with parents and help them feel included in their child’s education.

What are some of your success stories when it comes to communicating with parents?

*Parents is used in this article to describe the adults who have a main role in a child’s academic growth and development.

Esther Dunlop has a passion for STEM education and currently teaches 4th grade at St. Luke’s in Oviedo, Florida. She started her career teaching preschool, then fourth grade at Immanuel Lutheran in Olivette, Mo.

1 Comment

  1. Thomas Wrege on January 17, 2023 at 5:33 pm

    Superbly written, Esther. My dissertation is on the communication process and how it fits with the Christian school culture. I love your bulleted points that really stress the importance of prayerfully beginning, sustaining, and creating a system that works with each family. God bless you in your ministry! Thanks for writing and sharing this as a gift.

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