Sam Hall’s Parent Engagement Tips for New Teachers
We can all vividly remember our first day as a teacher. In my case, I was terrified that my students would think I was a fraud and that I had no business teaching them. Even more terrifying was my first parent call. “If I knew then, what I know now”, I would’ve been much more excited (yes, I did say excited).
Over the years, I’ve spoken with hundreds of district leaders, colleagues and parents to collect some terrific tips for new teachers (or veteran teachers!) that I only wish I knew sooner.
Start out on the right foot
Be sure your first interaction is a positive one! Starting the year with a “welcome call” is a good way to begin making connections outside the classroom. Here are a few points worth covering:
- Tell parents a little about yourself and give them a chance to tell you about their family.
- Ask parents to tell you about their child. Conversation starters include: hobbies, academic strengths, motivators etc.
- Let parents know your classroom goals for the year.
- Inform them of any upcoming important dates such as an orientation or open house.
Use a communication tool like ClassTag
Building relationships through parent engagement doesn’t have to be difficult. One of my best tips for new teachers is to keep all parent communication to one platform (aside from phone calls of course). Announcements, stories and weekly newsletters are just a few ways ClassTag can help keep parents up to date about what is happening in the classroom. Also, as a bonus, ClassTag is the only parent communication platform that allows you to earn free supplies and gift cards for your classroom while using it. This is truly a win-win.
Don’t always be the bearer of bad news
Parents need to know when their kiddo is doing well! All accomplishments should be celebrated, even small ones. Make it a point to be the bearer of good news. Surprise them with a positive update about their child showing kindness, helping a friend, or doing well on a particular assignment.
If you have to be the bearer of bad news…
There is a certain art that goes into having to call home and discuss a topic that might not be pleasant. The best way to handle a difficult parent call is to be collaborative and provide positives solutions. Here are some tips:
- Using the hamburger method, sandwich the bad news (the hamburger) with some positives.
- Discuss any issues collaboratively by involving the parent in the problem solving process. Keep the discussion solution oriented and come up with an action plan for both you and the parent before the end of the call.
- Leave the call on a good note and be sure to follow up!
Keep a Parent/Teacher Communication Log
Being consistent about keeping a communication log will help in various ways. It helps document issues, solutions, interventions, etc., ultimately providing seamless communication with parents and administration. This is one of my most important tips for new teachers to help you stay organized and on track.
Following these general guidelines will get you started, but don’t be scared to ask for advice or even have a seasoned teacher sit in and help you during your first few calls. Teaching is truly team effort, so never be scared to ask for help.
ClassTag is the free, easy-to-use parent communication platform that lets teachers effortlessly engage with parents and earn ClassTag Coins when parents and teachers communicate, volunteer, or attend school events like parent teacher conferences. Now teachers can not only improve parent engagement, but get much needed supplies while doing so. Explore ClassTag today!