Parent Teacher Communication

10 Tips for Effective and Positive Parent Teacher Communication

Communication between parents and teachers is a hot button topic in education. Many teachers, if they’ve been in the profession for any length of time, have had some not-so-nice interactions with parents. It comes with the job sadly. On the other hand, teachers also can have some absolutely wonderful interactions with parents as well! Effective and positive parent teacher communication is achievable.

I have taught for eleven years now. Three of those first years I was not a parent myself. Even over the course of those eleven years, parenting has changed. The expectations placed on parents, the trends, the culture, and the world has changed.

Therefore, I have had a wide variety of parent interactions so far. I have had some amazingly supportive parents who trusted me to do my job, and I’ve had some parents on the opposite end of that spectrum.

Here are 10 tips from a teacher-mom to make parent communication a positive experience.

1. Always listen

Any parent who emails, who comes into your classroom, who is happy to see you, or rather angry with you, just wants to be heard. They want you to listen to what they want to talk about. Listen more than respond. Think about things from their point of view. Consider if it were your child in the same circumstance. It is always important to listen.

Parents just want to be heard.

2. Pause

When receiving an angry email or tense phone call, pause. Do not respond right away. Do not call back right away. This allows you to think of how to respond thoughtfully, without any hint of anger coming across. It allows time for both parties to cool off. It allows you to summon up your professionalism and to really think about where the parent is coming from. It allows you to gather your thoughts and respond with a clear head.

3. Email Redirection

If a parent is getting rather tense in their email communication, do not directly respond to this tone. Respond by stating you’d be happy to meet them for a conference in person or on video chat. Don’t engage by becoming defensive. Stay professional and positive and ask for a good date and time to discuss the matter in person or virtually.

Always stay professional and positive.

4. Be Proactive

When I taught elementary, I would send out a weekly email updating parents on tests and quiz dates, project due dates, school-wide functions, etc. I always received amazing feedback on this. Parents loved that I kept them in the loop on a weekly basis.

You can do this as well or by sending home a weekly newsletter or a weekly calendar for the upcoming week.

When I shifted to teaching middle and high school, I did place more responsibility on the student for communication, but I still sent home letters about big projects. I would regularly update the school-wide website we were required to use with homework and important dates.

Even after sending a letter home with project dates and requirements, I would email parents to remind them of those dates.

5. When in Doubt, Communicate

If you have something that happened with a student in which you aren’t sure if this warrants an email or remind message, or whatever your school uses, you should send a communication anyway. When in doubt, go ahead and communicate.

When in doubt, go ahead and communicate.

6. Alert Parents Personally About Grades

If a student is not doing well in your class, it is a good idea to reach out and let the parent personally know. With some schools having grading systems open to parents at all times, it is assumed that parents see the grades and know how their child is doing. Yet, parents are busy and some do not take advantage of an open grading system and are still in the dark about their child’s grades. If your school just releases progress reports and report cards, it is still wise to communicate before that progress report or report card if that grade will not be what the parent would normally expect. Still reach out to them to let them know and offer a chance to chat. Perhaps something has been going on at home that caused that student to not do so well that quarter.

Reaching out not only allows for a way to let the parent know about the grade, but shows that you are personable and care about the individual child.

Good communication skills show you care.

7. Think About the Overall Goal

The parent and teacher both want the student to succeed. Sometimes the teacher seems like the enemy, when in reality they’re not. Parents and teachers are actually on the exact same team: wanting that child to do the best they can and to succeed. If you have this goal in mind, it helps make parent communication something positive and not negative. You and the parent working together trying to help that child is the best possible teamwork. Teamwork makes the dream work!

8. Communicate the Positives

Don’t let the only time parents hear from you be when you’re delivering bad news. Reach out and express positives to them about their child. If a student never has any misbehavior or concerning grades, still communicate and express how wonderfully behaved that child is or how well they’re doing. As a parent, we love to hear our child is doing well!

Reach out and express positives.

9. Update After Conferences

If you do meet with a parent for whatever reason, provide an update. As things progress, let the parent know that the goals you’ve discussed are being met and that their child is meeting or not meeting the expectations. This can be completed in a quick email or phone call home.

10. Lastly, Be Professional

Teaching is an occupation that should garner respect. Sometimes it just doesn’t from some parents. Yet, we should still act like we deserve respect. Set those boundaries. Answer emails during contract time. Delete your school email from your phone. Set up away messages on Remind. Don’t respond on the weekends.

Just like I wouldn’t expect my son’s pediatrician to answer my phone call at 11 pm at night for a minor issue, I shouldn’t expect a teacher to do the same. It’s okay to not be on call 24/7. You’ll be a better teacher if you exhibit a need for respect and boundaries. Exhibiting professionalism is the number one underlying goal that helps make all the other tips work.

Conclusion:

Parent/teacher communication can be a positive experience. Staying professional, listening, and being proactive are just some of the above tips that will help your students’ parents understand you’re on their side, working together for the collective goal of that child’s success.

To get a head-start on effective parent communication, please download our freebie business card to hand out to parents with all of your contact info. You can even glue a piece of a magnet to the back so they can stick it on their fridge in a handy way!

Author
English Language Arts

Folk Tales, Fairy Tales, and Other Legends

Bibbidi, Boppidi, Boo! With damsels in distress, villains, magic, and happy endings, fairy tales tend to capture and hold the attention of younger students. However, did you know folk tales and fairy tales are perfect for the middle school ELA classroom as well?

Before I tell you how, we should first discuss the difference between a fairy tale and a folk tale.

Fairy tales are a subset of the folk tale genre. Folk tales originated as oral stories passed from one generation to the next. They are based in reality or history. Fairy tales are actually folk tales. The only difference is fairy tales consists of lots of gnomes, goblins, wizards, and the like.

Many middle school students are familiar with fairy tales thanks to Disney. Most Disney movies took these fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm.

Want more information about this book,
please click the link below.

An Illustrated Treasury of Grimm’s Fairy Tales: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel and many more classic stories

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm wrote Grimm’s Fairy Tales. During the 1800’s, hundreds of their stories were published and read by many. Most of these stories are a bit darker than the Disney versions, which further intrigues middle schoolers.

I first taught Brothers Grimm fairy tales to seventh graders completely virtually in the spring of 2020.

When I first taught this, I started off with Snow White. It’s a personal favorite of mine. (Peep the time I dressed up as her when I taught elementary!) Also, I chose it because I thought many students would be familiar with the basic premise of this fairy tale.

Before students read this story, we learned all the criteria that a fairy tale normally encompasses. Students were on the lookout to determine if Grimm’s Snow White had all of the following elements.

Fairy Tale Criteria:

  • Oftentimes begins with “Once upon a time” and ends with “And they lived happily ever after.”
  • Contains magical creatures or imaginative characters.
  • Things occur in threes or sevens (Three wishes or Seven dwarves).
  • Usually takes place in a faraway land.
  • Royalty is present.
  • Contains motifs relating to sleep or something reoccurring.
  • Good is always victorious over evil.

After learning the common fairy tale elements, I held an online discussion question of what they knew already about Snow White. Some of the students really knew the story whereas some only knew the basics. We created a list of most known facts concerning the fairy tale. We reviewed the basic storyline from the Disney movie of Snow White.

Snow White: Comparison and Contrast

Then students read the Brothers Grimm’s Snow White, which is the very first and original version.

The first activity we did was to simply compare and contrast the Disney version to the original. Some vast differences include:

  • Snow White was 7 years old in Grimm’s’ fairy tale and 14 in the Disney version.
  • The Queen asked the huntsman to bring her some more gruesome aspects to prove Snow White’s death in the original.
  • The Queen’s death is much different in the original.
  • Each time the Queen visits Snow White’s home at the dwarves’ house, she tries to kill her and each time it looks like she has succeeded, but actually she hasn’t.
  • The dwarves don’t have individual, comic personalities in the original story.

*There are many more differences. These are just a few.

After comparing and contrasting, we analyzed some of the differences and tried to provide justification for them in questions.

For instance, why would the queen’s death include wearing hot iron shoes and dancing until she died? What did this mean?

Furthermore, the students analyzed why Disney changed the way Snow White came back to life. In the movie, Snow White wakes when the prince kisses her. In Grimm’s Fairy Tales, she wakes when the dwarves drop her body. Then, a piece of apple dislodges from her throat, causing her to wake up. Our class analyzed why Disney changed this.

We also read the Grimm’s’ original stories of Rumpelstiltskin and Rapunzel. Our class followed the same consistent pattern of background information, learning the popular basics of the story, then reading, comparing and contrasting, analyzing the differences and choices made by the Brothers Grimm or by Disney, and then determining if it met the fairy tale criteria.

Twisted Fairy Tales

Next, we continued with our fairy tale unit by exploring twisted fairy tales. These fairy tales are considered twisted because the fairy tales have been rewrote from the villain’s point of view or the setting was changed to modern or futuristic times.

One of the most popular twisted fairy tales is The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszk in which the wolf tells the story from his point of view. Watch the video below to see and listen as the author reads this intriguing version.

The Other Side of the Story, by Jessica S. Gunderson and Nancy Loewin, is a collection of twisted fairy tales. I highly recommend these books for any age of elementary to middle school kiddos. Their twisted fairy tales are too cute.

Want more information about these books,
please click the link below.

The Other Side of the Story: Fairy Tales with a Twist

After reading examples of twisted fairy tales, students completed a culminating writing assignment. They wrote their own twisted fairy tales. We went through the writing process and peer editing. Their stories turned out wonderfully.

I would definitely recommend exploring Brothers Grimm fairy tales at the middle school or higher age level. Because they tend to have darker and deeper themes, it is just mature enough to capture the older students’ attention and intrigue them.

Folk Tales, Fairy Tales, and Other Legends Lesson Plan

If you teach upper elementary to middle school and are considering teaching folk tales, fairy tales, myths, and legends, we have an awesome informative and interactive PowerPoint or Google Slides Lesson Plan Activity to share with your students. Our lesson plan includes a graphic organizer and writing papers for students to write their own twisted fairy tales. In addition, it contains a quick ten question assessment to see how well students learned the information from the unit.

We also have these adorable posters that show the differences between many genres of tales such as myths, folklore, and legends.

If you would like to grab both products, the bundle is below!

Conclusion

Teaching folktales and fairy tales is a great way to begin the school year as there are many opportunities to teach reading and writing standards, as well as to assess where students are in their abilities and levels.

It is also a fun unit to complete around Halloween, in the fall, or as a way to wrap up the year in a lighthearted way. We hope you are able to incorporate some of these ideas and to consider adding this topic to your lesson plans this year.

Author
Fashion Ideas, Self Care for Teachers, Well-Being

Fashion Ideas for the Classroom Teacher

I don’t know about you, but the days I don’t like my outfit, I feel a bit “off.” When I love what I’m wearing, I feel more confident and joyful, ready to take on whatever the day holds. Thus, the concept for Fashion Ideas for the Classroom Teacher was born.

During my virtual teaching stint in 2020, one of the aspects I missed about teaching in-person was getting dressed everyday and feeling put together. Oddly, I never knew I would miss that, but I definitely did.

While teaching in-person, taking the time to get dressed every morning in a comfortable yet put-together outfit was a way to help me feel ready to tackle the day. If I felt confident, I felt like I could face anything.

I quickly learned to do the same with virtual teaching. (At least, get dressed professionally from the waist up, even if the bottom consisted of leggings or pajama pants. Who’s with me?)

When it comes to outfits, I especially love dresses. They are comfy and allow me to move a bit more freely while teaching. 

Also, I really love affordable dresses! We all know that a teacher’s salary doesn’t afford Nordstrom brand styles, so all of these dresses are from Amazon and under thirty dollars each. 

Here are some dresses I’m loving these days:

Sherosa Dresses

Long Sleeve Dresses for Women Casual Summer V-Neck Ruffle Swing Tunic Dress B Polka Dot Dark Green M

I have this dress in two different sizes and three different colors. The larger size makes the dress longer on me. It is true to size. I’ve worn these dresses with leggings in the winter, with some boots in the fall, and with sandals and flats in the springtime.

Long Sleeve Dresses for Women Casual Summer V-Neck Ruffle Swing Tunic Dress A Red Wine L

This dress is really flattering, especially since I had my second baby a year ago.

Amoretu Sleeveless Dress

This dress is the sleeveless version of it, and I love it for summer and even spring to fall with a jean jacket. It is true to size. 

Amoretu Women’s Deep V Neck Loose Shift Summer Tunic Dress Sleevelesss Black M

OUGES Dress

Sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers, so that’s why I got this one.  (Daisies are my very favorite!) This dress is so comfortable, flowy, true to size, and hits right past the knees. 

OUGES Women’s Short Sleeve V Neck Button Down Midi Skater Dress with Pockets (Black Floral01, M)

KIRUNDO Dress

Speaking of sunflowers, I absolutely love this dress. I even wore it for pictures in our sunflower field! I have worn it with a cardigan, a jean jacket, boots and leggings, and sandals all throughout the year. It is so versatile and flowy! 

KIRUNDO Women’s Summer Mini Dress Sleeveless Ruffle Sleeve Round Neck Solid Color Loose Fit Short Flowy Pleated Dress (Medium, Red Wine)

Another KIRUNDO

Pink is one of my favorite colors. This dress hits right at the knees and I always get a ton of compliments on this one. It is true to size. 

KIRUNDO Summer Women’s Floral Ruffle Hem Mini Dress Short Sleeves V Neck High Waist Loose Boho Dress(Pink, M)

YADIFEN Biker Shorts

Extras: I always put a pair of biker shorts underneath my dresses, in case I have to bend down or get on the floor. It helps me feel comfortable. 

YADIFEN 3 Pack Biker Shorts for Women – 8″ Soft Stretchy Athletic Short Pants High Waisted Yoga Cycling Workout Shorts Black

VIV Leggings Collection

The thing I love about dresses is I can throw some leggings underneath and a cardigan or jean jacket on top, and I’m ready for the autumn and winter months. 

VIV Collection Leggings Yoga Waistband Soft NO Pocket (Reg, Black)

Conclusion

During a time in which teaching can be so overwhelming, we must find the fun parts of it. To me, dressing well and affordably is an enjoyable part of teaching. I hope you are able to find the fun parts of teaching for you! 

Author