You always hear about why it’s good to include something positive about a student whenever you have to contact their parent with something negative, and that’s easy enough to do throughout the year when you have to reach out to parents. You also frequently hear how it’s a good idea to start off with a positive note to all parents in the first couple of weeks of the school year, but that’s always seemed easier said than done, and certainly for an elementary teacher with 30 students compared to a secondary teacher with up to 180 students. However, after a first for me in this back to school season, I’ll be trying to do exactly that from now on.
During the first week of school, I had a great opportunity to email a parent something positive about their kid with no strings attached. For the sake of the kid’s privacy, let’s just say a 7th grader took it upon herself to go above and beyond and help me out with some classroom manual labor. The extra amazing part of this is that it was after last period and she was walking down the hallway to head home, saw that I was trying to do this by myself, and without saying a word, she walked in the room and helped me out. I was so surprised (in a good way), and so impressed and grateful, I sent her parents an email before I went home that day.
The next day they replied and even through email I could see how grateful they were that I had told them something positive about their daughter. Now, she’s a great student and the type who has never gotten anything negative sent home, but none of her previous teachers had taken the moment to send her parents a positive email just for the sake of it. In fact, the next week at meet the teacher night, they thanked me again and emphasized how much it meant to them that one of their daughter’s teachers had taken the time to tell them something so positive and noteworthy, and reiterated that they had never gotten such an email before.
Seeing how much it meant to her parents made me realize that I really should sit down and take the time to email a parent or two each afternoon. I assume that most of my other students had likewise not gotten that sort of email or note sent home. This was no longer a good idea to consider, or something just for elementary teachers. This was something that would take only 3-5 minutes of my time but would make a parents’ night, and hopefully make the student feel like they were doing something right.
Sending parents a positive email at the start of the year would also contribute to setting the tone for the rest of the year for all of us, and should I need to reach out to any parents as the year went on for something less than stellar, those conversations would hopefully be received a bit better. This has all always seemed like common sense, but it took me a few years to actually start doing it. Now that I have seen first hand the effect of positive communication with no ulterior motive, or to buffer something negative , each year from now on, I will make a concerted effort to reach out to all my students’ parents in the first couple of weeks of school.
How do you connect with your students parents? I’d love to have more tips and ideas going into the next school year 🙂