Families are such a big part of your students’ lives. Making an effort to include families as part of your team goes a long way towards making your classroom a true community.
Communicate with Families
If you see your students’ parents or caregivers at dropoff or pickup time each day, this isn’t too hard. The communication time is already built in! If not, make an effort to call or email each family one to two times per week (the earlier the grade level, the more important this is). Sometimes, you may need the assistance of a translator, but it’s worth it. Tell families not only how their child is doing, but also make an effort to share at least one positive thing about their child’s day whenever you speak to them. Also make sure to keep families in the loop on any strategies you may be trying in the classroom. Finally, ask their advice! After all, they have known their kiddo longer than you have, and they are experts on their own children. If you have questions, ask!
Also, take time to get to know families. Find out about where they grew up, what they like to do on the weekends, and what their values are. Everyone is different.
And, of course, learn their names! Please don’t be that person calling every students’ mother, “Mom.”
Photo by wikia
Work with Families — Not Against Them!
It can be hard to overcome the attitude of, “I’m the teacher, so I know best.” But no one knows everything! Working together with families to figure out solutions is better for everyone. Often, you come up with better ideas as a team. The family feels more empowered. You don’t have the burden of being perfect — which is impossible! Sometimes, the family’s opinion will be different from your opinion. Listen to them. Talk it over together. It’s their child, and unless there is a VERY good reason not to try it their way, it usually can’t hurt to give it a shot.
Be a Cheerleader
It is so easy to judge others. Instead, try to always put yourself in their shoes! Being a parent is tough, and not everyone will have the same values as you do. That’s okay! Try to always be understanding and build others up instead of tearing others down. This goes for conversations in the teacher’s lounge, too.
It isn’t always easy, but having relationships with families is so much better than doing it alone. And ya know what? Parents also want teachers who will listen to them! Win-win. 🙂