How can a teacher communicate with students and parents to be most effective?
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The requirement for teachers to be able to communicate clearly and concisely with both students and parents is no different than the requirement of many professions to be able to communicate effectively. The whole point of teaching is to be able to communicate ideas and concepts to children in a way that they can understand, and to the extent individual students’ parents wish to remain engaged in their children’s education, being able to express concerns in a sympathetic manner is similarly part of the profession of teaching. The larger the class size, obviously, the greater the challenge for the teacher not just in educating students but in responding to parents’ concerns regarding curriculum, one-on-one attention for their children, relationships among students (are friends a negative influence; is there a student who intimidates other students, in other words, a bully; are children with special needs receiving the extra support they need and the law requires, etc.), and other issues that may concern parents.
Parents can be irrational, or possess expectations of the educational process that are difficult if not impossible to fulfill. They can demand special attention for their child which the teacher may not believe is warranted or, conversely, may resent the teacher’s suggestion that the child in question requires special attention. They might have concerns about the children with whom their child is associating, or resent that their child does not have an opportunity to socialize with friends in other classrooms. There is no end to the list of comments/suggestions/complaints that parents have during the course of a school year. And then, of course, there are the parents who are disengaged and display little or no regard for their children’s education, an entirely different and considerably more difficult problem that may require the teacher to communicate with the parents in an effort at getting them interested and engaged.
A teacher who is not a good communicator is not likely a good teacher – or, teaches gym. Effective communications is the key to preventing problems or to resolving them once they emerge. Most teachers are cognizant of that requirement of the job, and perform their extraordinarily important responsibilities well.
I am going to answer this from a method approach as opposed to a rationale. I have concluded that any way you can open up a channel for parents to be aware and more involved in their children's learning is effective. In this age of technology, there should be NO reason for lack of parental involvement.
I found an app that allows students and parents to subscribe (receiving extra credit) so I am able to send out mass messages regarding items such as homework reminders and upcoming major assignment / assessment dates. I have been known to send an occasional bonus question via this method. Our student data system allows for parents to connect for the purpose of viewing grades, attendance, and contact teachers via email. Parents are encouraged (students also receive extra credit for this) to join my online management learning system in order to view instructional material and their children's progress. And despite the caution for teachers not to give out their personal mobile phone, I do. And in eleven years, I cannot recall any abuse of my number. Sure, I may have gotten one or two prank or mistaken calls or texts. But, the benefits far outweigh these minor inconveniences. I also ask for my students mobile phone numbers at the beginning of the school year - just in case. They appreciate this when, at the end of a grading period, I contact them in the event they overlooked something resulting in an undesirable grade.
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