As you know, I have been encouraging new teachers and soon-to-be teachers to take the Amazing Teacher Pledge – a set of 10 promises that I believe all amazing teachers make.
Here is the third promise of the Amazing Teacher Pledge.
I promise to communicate with parents.
Amazing teachers have some kind of communication mechanism in place where parents can be notified on a consistent basis as to how their child is doing.
I have found that most parents want to be part of their child’s education. Most parents want to be able to help their child at home with their school work, even if it is only to bug them to get their homework done.
With advances in technology, parents can be kept in the loop in various ways such as the school web site, email, texts, etc.
It just takes a decision to make parent communication a priority.
Amazing teachers connect with the parents of their students.
Amazing teachers identify which students are struggling early, and contact their parents.
If a student is getting a poor grade in a class after three weeks, there needs to be some kind of verified parent contact.
After three weeks, it’s difficult to salvage a student’s grade.
When the grades are posted at the end of the term, neither the student nor the parent should be surprised at what they see.
Making parent contact isn’t just about letting the parent know that Johnny is failing your class. That phone call doesn’t have to be unpleasant or judgmental.
The phone call must focus on demonstrating your concern for the student. Parents want to know that you are sincerely worried about their child.
When making that phone call, I would try to follow the following formula:
- Start with a positive statement about the child.
- Make a statement of concern.
- Describe the issue.
- Offer a plan for success.
- Ask for help.
- Finish with a reiteration of the positive statement about the child.
Here is how a possible call might sound:
Hello Mrs. Johnson,
My name is Mr. Rangel, and I’m calling about Johnny.
Johnny is a bright young man, but I’m a little concerned that he is not getting the grades he should be receiving.
There have been three homework assignments that he hasn’t turned in, and those missing assignments are really affecting his grade.
In class, he’s off task a little too often, and I am having to call his name too many times to get his attention.
I believe he can still get a good grade in my class if he turns in those missing assignments. I’ll still give him partial credit.
And if you can speak with him about paying more attention in class, I know he can have a successful year in my class.
I just wanted you to be aware of my concerns for Johnny, and ask for you help at home.
Like I said, Johnny is smart. I know he is capable of getting good grades in all his classes.
I know there isn’t a lot of time to make phone calls on every struggling student, so I would prioritize the list of struggling students, and call as many as possible.
The rest would receive an email or a letter home, but some kind of “verified” communication needs to be done.
Effective and consistent parent communication is a key element in the success of your students, and it is a hallmark of the amazing teacher.