Parent and teacher communication is a lot like an arranged marriage for at least nine months. The new school year has started and there has to be commitment from all parties for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health until you are parted by the end of the academic school year. This is the one time that being married multiple times is not frowned upon. As with all relationships, effective communication between the parent and teacher is the anchor for supporting students through a successful school year.
Getting to know one another
Let’s keep it real. There is no time for a blind date or courtship. Your child was assigned to their new teacher over the summer, the school year has started, and the parent and teacher have now entered into an arranged marriage by the powers that be.
· Adjust your expectations and perceptions. Set realistic expectations for one another, release any pre-judgements, and be in the present moment.
· Be a good listener. It’s very difficult to set a solid plan of action at the beginning of the school year when parents and teachers are not listening to one another. Most times the listening party is hearing what is being said while simultaneously busy thinking about what they are going to say next. That’s not listening! In order to develop a cohesive communication plan that will help both the parent and teacher support the child each party must practice listening without anticipating or planning what they will say next.
· Parents be mindful that the teacher has over 20 other students in the class that need his/her attention. Although teachers are trained to manage the needs of all students, this is still a unique balancing act that requires parental support.
· Teachers be mindful that parents want to feel secure. They want to know that their child/children are being left in the care of an individual who has their child(ren)’s best interest in mind.
· Both parents and teachers should leave the past school years behind, and be in the present moment.
· It is imperative to establish an agreed upon system of communication prior to the end of the honeymoon period.
When the honeymoon is over
As with any relationship, the campaign and honeymoon phase eventually comes to an end, and those dormant behaviors start to appear. The anticipation of the new school year has ended. In other words, the thrill is gone for the students and reality has set in. This is when effective parent and teacher communication is needed the most.
· Teachers be consistent and timely with your academic and behavioral feedback. Provide a balance of feedback that addresses both positive progress and areas of concern. No parent responds well when they only hear negativity about their kid.
· Parents be proactive. Check grades prior to your child failing the course, and address attendance issues. Hold your children accountable for their actions by not supporting learned self-helplessness and inappropriate behavior.
·Parents and teachers have to show a united front
A lifetime commitment
Parents and teachers will enter these arranged marriages year after year. There is no place for divorce as it relates to the relationship of parents and teachers. Our youth are depending on your united guidance and support as they matriculate through their school years. As a result, the process of effective communication amongst parents and teachers should be considered as a lifetime commitment. Well, at least until the academic year ends.
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