And something they should never do.
I was a magnet for children with special needs throughout my years as a classroom teacher. My principals never shied away from placing students with significant academic and behavioral challenges on my roster.
Regardless of how challenging a child was, though, I made it a practice to send their parents a positive note or email the first week of school. I would share a fun story that happened or point out an exceptional quality I noticed about their kid.
This small gesture helped me establish rapport and trust, which are critical to healthy partnerships between parents and teachers.
Not only is sending positive communication early in the school year a good practice for teachers, it’s also a valuable habit for parents.
Through this one simple action you can do can make all the difference in the coming school year.
What is this powerful gesture?
Simply send a positive note or email during the first week or two of school.
I understand it may feel awkward to reach out in this way, especially so early in the school year. However, it pays off in spades.
Why does it work?
Connecting early in a positive way is important because it:
- Builds trust
- Establishes a relationship.
- Builds a foundation of a healthy partnership.
As Jessica Lahey says in her book, The Gift of Failure, “This sort of communication places parents firmly on the same team as teachers, and sets the stage for trust, even when students flounder or fail.”
One thing you shouldn’t do is wait until something goes wrong.
One mistake parents often make is waiting until something goes wrong to talk to teachers. It’s hard to feel like a valued teammate when the first time you hear from someone is when they have a problem or need something from you.
I’ve kept every positive note I ever received from a parent or student. They serve as a reminder of why I became a teacher in the first place.
Take the time to reach out to your child’s teachers within the first couple of weeks of school to introduce yourself and share a compliment. It could be something your child shared with you from class or a response to communication you received from the teacher.
As long as the feedback is positive and genuine, it will set the stage for a productive bond. Yes, this proactive action takes time and effort. And it is a valuable investment.
Go on now and write that note. You never know the difference it may make in a teacher’s day or in your child’s experience.