Communicating with Parents: 3 Tips for Teachers

The best relationships thrive on good communication. It’s no surprise that great teachers are also great communicators. Sometimes, keeping communication lines clear and open with parents can be challenging, especially in middle and high school. But even as students become more independent, communicating with parents is one of the most important things a teacher can do to help a student receive their best education.

The arrival of spring marks a great time for teachers to step back, reflect, and plan for ways to connect with and involve parents and families in the coming weeks. From planning end-of-year meetings to getting a head start on your communication plans for the fall, we’ve provided three proactive ideas and resources to keep you communicating with parents today and through to next year.

Set students up for success through end of the year

With just a few months left in the 2018-18 school year, take time now to assess where each student is in their academic progress and identify any gaps that need to be addressed for finishing all grade-level requirements.

A useful strategy to determine the root of a problem is to use the “5 Whys” strategy from Sakichi Toyoda. The method is relatively simple: start with the problem and keep asking why until you discover the root cause. For example, why is a particular student continuing to fail their math tests? Or, why does a student continue to show up late for class?

Prepare to identify root causes by doing some basic research. Analyze student academic data available on the Summit Learning Platform, get insight and perspective from colleagues, and observe and take notes on a student’s academic habits and behaviors.

Communicating student progress to parents is a great way to boost student motivation

Asking why should also involve the student and be done in a confidential and comfortable environment. Make the ultimate objective clear from the start — the goal of the question and answer process is to help students be more successful and reach their full potential. 

Getting to the root cause of an issue often reveals a necessary change that needs to take place in the student’s, and sometimes others’, behaviors or mindsets. Or, students might not be equipped with the study skills they need to better learn. 

Once a root cause is identified, help students create an action plan for success. This is where communicating with parents and families is essential. Invite parents into school for a student-parent-teacher meeting, and encourage students to communicate their plan out loud. Boost student motivation by establishing a regular routine for communicating student progress to parents and families.

Reflect on your family outreach and involvement

Take time to reflect on your parent and family feedback and communication processes, both for this year but also in preparation for next fall (it’s never too early, right?)

Summit Learning provides helpful parent communication templates in the Learning Space, including ones for setting up meetings and sharing student progress, communicating regular updates, and inviting parents to upcoming celebrations and events.

Now is also a great time to think about ways to step up your family and community outreach for any upcoming school or classroom events this spring. Try promoting an event through your school’s or district’s social media channels, or even through a local newspaper.

If events and celebrations have had lower attendance in the past, try having a parent, teacher, or student record the event or celebration and then share it digitally with families who can’t attend in person.

Encourage SMART goal setting

Integrating SMART goal setting into your weekly mentoring practice not only helps students become more self-directed learners — it’s also a great way to involve parents and help them better understand the benefits of mentoring. 

Share student goals and progress in your regular communication with parents, and encourage students to do the same. And get parents to practice setting SMART goals with their child by sharing this family goal-setting activity activity, also available in Spanish on the Summit Learning Space.

Other great parent and family relationship-building resources:

Find other relationship-building strategies for parents, students, and communities in Educator Resources.

About the author

Summit Learning
Summit Learning is a research–based approach to education designed to drive student engagement, meaningful learning, and strong student–teacher relationships that prepare students for life after graduation. Created by teachers with experience in diverse classrooms, Summit Learning is grounded in decades of research about how children learn. With Summit Learning, students gain mastery of core subjects like math, history, English, and science, while also carefully developing the skills and habits of lifelong learners. Summit Learning is independently led and operated by the nonprofit, Gradient Learning.