What Parents Want: Communication
While many consider new teachers’ greatest concern to be the students in their classrooms, parent involvement in the learning process and teacher-parent communication can be challenging as well. A book recently published by Brigham Young University special education professors Tina Dyches and Mary Anne Prater, along with graduate student Nari Carter, teaches essential skills and strategies for building relationships and communicating with parents.
“Parents are often frustrated when they don’t have ready access to their child’s performance in school, when they find out about field trips or other events with little time to prepare, or when they are not included in family-oriented school events,” Dyches said. “This book attempts to provide solutions to many problems schools have in communicating with parents.”
The book by Dyches, Carter, and Prater, A Teacher’s Guide to Communicating with Parents: Practical Strategies for Developing Successful Relationships, draws from professional literature and research, along with the authors’ personal experiences in including parents in the education process. “The book is intended to prepare future teachers for challenges they may face, as well as practicing teachers looking for ways to connect with parents,” Prater said. “It is very basic as far as skills needed to be effective, and it offers a lot of different solutions.”
Included in the guide is an appendix of reproducible material and templates for teachers to use in their communication with parents. The authors explain the benefits and disadvantages of various forms of communication, including telephone, written, and electronic exchanges. They also offer tips for communicating about difficult topics, such as academic, social and behavior problems; child abuse and neglect; bullying; and school crises.
“We tried to address in a friendly manner a wide range of issues or concerns that a teacher may face. We didn’t want it to feel like a textbook,” Carter said. “Knowing how to get parents involved in education is an important skill. Teachers need to invite parents to participate.”
A Teacher’s Guide to Communicating with Parents covers K-12 education across diverse groups and focuses on actual communication strategies rather than principles of collaboration covered in similar works. For example, the guide doesn’t merely discuss the importance of parent-teacher conferences: It gives suggestions for making them more effective, a list of things to do and not to do, and ideas for interacting with parents when they visit the school.
“We hope this book can become a tool not only for pre-service teachers, but for student teachers and licensed teachers who are willing to partner more effectively with families of the students they serve,” Dyches affirmed.
28 February 2011