Check out these tips from parents for building a strong relationship with your students’ families.

You probably received some training from your school district about how to work with families. Maybe you even talked to some of your colleagues or your mentor about how to build strong relationships with students’ families. After all, building a strong partnership will help the student succeed. But have you ever wondered what advice parents would give you? What do they want from the teacher-parent partnership?

At Parents for Public Schools, we work to bring parents and guardians into a positive relationship with their children’s teachers and schools, and we’ve gathered feedback from parents about how they think that can happen. Here’s what they said.

Parent-teacher conferences. We asked parents how they view parent-teacher conferences. Parents told us that they wish teachers wouldn’t sit at their desk when meeting with parents. They need to sit next to parents if they are going over the student’s work. This makes parents feel like they are in a partnership with the teacher — and indeed they are, since they were the child’s first teacher.

Communication. Parents like teachers to provide their cell phone number and to invite comments, questions, and concerns from the parents and guardians. Parents also really appreciate genuine invitations to help in the classroom and to visit at appropriate times.

Many parents have said that they hope teachers will minimize their use of educational jargon. Parents are intimidated by words and acronyms that they haven’t studied and do not understand, so it helps to put those things into language that anyone can understand.

Successful teachers give positive feedback as often as possible, both to the child and to the parent. This helps develop a sense of partnering with the family to help the child succeed. This can be a note home, an email, or best of all, a phone call or text message.

Great teachers clearly outline the classroom behavior expectations and consequences so there’s no confusion. They also outline the course requirements and explain the grading policy.

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