Parent Teacher Communication success tips

Successful Parent Teacher Communication Tips

Students need parent teacher communication. We need to work together to help kids. There are three essential times for parent teacher communication.

[callout]The Global Search for Education has a monthly question. This month: “What are the best ways parents can help teachers and that teachers can help parents?”[/callout]

  • Introductions
  • Ongoing communications
  • When problems or unforeseen circumstances happen

I've been a teacher for fourteen years and a Mom for twenty. I've seen the good and bad from both sides. Here's what I've learned.

Introductions: Parent Teacher Communication Point #1

Teachers to Parents.

Seasoned educators stress that the first parent communication should be positive. Make a phone call. Host a meeting. First impressions are everything. If the first time you call a parent, it is for bad news, they are going to dread hearing your name.

Set expectations for ongoing and emergency communications.

Parents to Teachers.

Make your first communication positive too. Send a note. Be helpful. Set the tone. Even if you're busy, a quick email to say you're excited will help.

[callout]Tip #1: Start strong, eager to get along.[/callout]

Ongoing Communications: Parent Teacher Communication Point #2

Teachers to Parents.

Keep parents informed, but keep it short. I start off with email, but I've found that linking with a parent's cell phone is vital. (Just texting them anytime is NOT the way. Use a tool like Bloomz.)

Share pictures, stories, and successes. Tell parents when a child succeeds at something. I try to communicate with parents every 7-10 days or when a major project is happening.

Go to ballgames. Be where the kids are. You can build great relationships at events.

Parents to Teachers.

Give teachers time to respond. If you email, realize that they are teaching during the day. If you text, be respectful and don't do it too late.

Communicate concerns with the teacher first before taking it to the principal. When you don't, you aren't partnering, you're trying to coerce.

[callout]Tip #2: Communicate consistently. Know how the other person likes to communicate. Listen. [/callout]

When Problems Happen: Parent Teacher Communication Point #3

Teachers to Parents

I have a rule. If I have bad news to tell someone, they will hear it from me first. Superintendent Joe Sanfelippo says,

“In the absence of knowledge, people tend to make up their own.”

A child gets teased. Something happens, and the teacher is involved. Nowadays, people who gossip have fingers of fire. Rumors fly.

When problems happen, I tell the principal and quickly call the parent. I want them to hear it from me first. I prefer verbal conversations over email.

Parents to Teachers

Problems at home. If a close family member is ill, a new child is born, or parents are divorcing — tell the teacher. Children internalize hurt. Eventually, it comes out in behavior. When teachers know, we can better understand a child. We can be more understanding.

Problems with the teacher. Listen to your child's complaint. Before you communicate your thoughts with the child, contact the teacher. Hear the teacher's side.

Advocate for your child. But realize that children need to be in a successful mindset to succeed with that teacher. You destroy that mindset when you criticize the teacher in front of the child. Teachers aren't the enemy.

And realize this:

  • your child is not the only child in the classroom
  • the teacher is not a mind reader and may not know about this problem
  • you may not be hearing the whole story

[callout]We can work it out if we give each other the benefit of the doubt. But in the end, kids need people who care more about doing right than being right.[/callout]

In Conclusion

The success of our children is in our hands. Let's clasp hands in helpfulness. Let's work together to help kid's lives be awesome.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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John August 20, 2015 - 10:17 am

I think the biggest problem is parents to teachers communication. I found many times parents do not want partnership. They have only requirements and expectations. In my opinion people spend not enough time on building real relationship.


Cristina September 17, 2015 - 9:13 pm

I love how you are an advocate for both parents and teachers. To ensure that students are successful, the communication between parents and teacher must be strong. Parents and teachers should always have some form of communication and with technology being so accessible, it should be used to its full advantage. Thank you for introducing me to the Bloomz app, I love it. I have been using Remind 101, but Bloomz seems to offer just a little bit more to keep that open line of communication. Whether I use Bloomz or Remind 101, I agree every beginning to a relationship has to start out positive, which I always make a point to do.

Vicki Davis September 18, 2015 - 10:09 am

Thanks for your comment Cristina. Yes, parents, teachers and students need excellent relationships. I’ve found when there are issues between parents and teachers that there are typically issues on both sides. The more we can help parents peek inside our classroom, the better. And yes, Bloomz is another great tool in that toolkit for us. I think the biggest thing is that we should link with cell phones and not just email!

Amy Dickinson September 19, 2015 - 11:25 pm

I agree that teachers should have some type of access to parents with all the technology that we currently have. I personally have a hard time with parents changing their phone numbers and not letting me know. This makes it very hard to communicate with the parent!

I too am excited about trying out Bloomz. I hope you have you had luck using it!

Hoa Lee September 18, 2015 - 1:31 am

Thanks for the helpful tips!! We’re only a little a month into school and already I’ve had more than a handful of parent contacts/meetings. I want to share some of these tips with parents at parent conferences in two months, but I need to think of how to share it in a mindful way so they won’t be offended. The key is finding a way to communicate it delicately, so it’s helpful and not taken the wrong way. My goal is to help parents see we’re on the same team, trying to help their child be successful!

Vicki Davis September 18, 2015 - 10:10 am

I’ve started leaving weekly messages in Bloomz and today am recording some videos for parents with screencasts. I want them to have a glimpse into our classroom and what we’re trying to do!

Amy Dickinson September 19, 2015 - 11:16 pm

This was a great post! I agree that we as teachers need to make a great first impression on our students and their families. Each year, I always start out the year by making phone calls to all my students. This starts the year off in such a fun and positive way. It definitely takes extra time to do this, but it is worth it! Once students and parents come for Meet and Greet, things run so much smoother. The extra time it took to make the phone calls starts the year out right! Parents love the special phone calls for their children.

I also agree with your comment about reporting news to parents before they find out from someone else. Things can get out of control these days with people having access to Facebook and other media. You never know when something small that happened at school can be blown out of proportion and the whole world find out about it. Parents always appreciate hearing things straight from the teacher.

I love that you introduced me to Bloomz. I have been using Remind 101, but this seems to offer more. If I can connect by way of phone with parents it is much better than email. I can’t wait to try out Bloomz!

I look forward to reading your blog again!

Ashley Moore September 20, 2015 - 9:06 pm

Communication is so essential in creating an effective classroom. I really enjoyed how it was pointed out “that the first parent communication should be a positive one”. I completely agree.
At our school we hold a Kindergarten Orientation prior to the first day of school. It allows for the parents and students to meet us and begin that line of communication before the first day of school begins. Our Kindergarten team has done this for the past 3 years now, and we have had a lot of positive feedback because it decreases the worry and anxiety the students (and parents) may face. It also allows the parents to ask any questions or voice any concerns before their child’s first school day. During orientation I always make sure to give my school contact number and email to parents so that they can easily get in contact with me.
I also like how this post included information on parent to teacher communication. If the information you provided was followed by all parties, there would be no communication gap, and we could all benefit from that.

Vicki Davis September 21, 2015 - 7:09 pm

YEs! We have “cottage meetings” at our school. This is such a great best practice. Thank you for sharing it! Whatever we can do ahead of time to connect with parents is important. I do love having an app that allows me to quickly message parents. I sent 8 important messages via Bloomz today and got a response so quickly. Thanks for sharing!

Mitch September 24, 2015 - 2:57 am

As a future teacher at the secondary education level, I am very thankful for this article. As I get field experience in classrooms once a week and take many math courses as well as education courses, parent-teacher interactions are never really addressed. It is certainly an intimidating component of teaching that remains ominous and mysterious to me. It is stressed as being an extremely important part of my role and I certainly agree with that notion. For the amount of time a student is at school, away from home, I think parents deserve to receive updates and contact from teachers periodically. It seems only fair. As a bit of a rookie without any experience interacting with parents from the role of a teacher, do you have any additional tips for me as I student teach this spring and potentially enter into a classroom of my own after this year?

Vicki Davis September 24, 2015 - 5:48 pm

I’ve found just bringing them into the classroom works. I like to share things that they can talk about with their child after school – pics, thoughts, and sometimes details about what I’m trying to teach them. I’ve written quite a bit about parents and we’ve had several shows recently. This show with Erin Klein and this show with Amy Fadeji and Joe Sanfellippo are two great ones with lots of ideas and best practices. They have inspired me to do quite a few things differently!


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