As a teacher, communication with parents hasn’t been my strong point. I don’t like to initiate contact. Sometimes I’ve let things wait for too long until they become bigger problems than if I’d just taken care of them early on.
Part of my difficulty is the very reason I’m an elementary teacher: I like kids better than I like adults. Kids are easy to talk to. Grown-ups are scary. Part of it is habit formed by my first teaching job. I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say that micromanagement made communicating with parents a major hassle.
Ever since then, I’ve been battling with myself to take initiative and communicate with parents regularly.
This year I tried something new. I made a goal to email one family each week with a positive note about their child. I only write about positive things in the email. Mostly I’ve focused on things like good participation, critical thinking skills, and social skills.
The result of this has been two-fold. I’ve gotten wonderful response from the parents. Of course they like hearing positive things about their child. It builds our relationship and helps parents feel comfortable approaching me. I’ve also gotten some really nice email about how they appreciate my efforts with their child, which definitely feels good.
Even more importantly, it has made me look for the good in each child. Some emails are easier to write than others. But it’s important to find positive qualities in each of my students. It helps me see them as a whole person, which helps me be more compassionate and patient with them.
This goal felt like a big step to me. It turned out to not be so difficult, once I committed to it. The results have changed my teaching for the better.