Open Communication is sometimes the key to success with a number of my students. I find that as the teacher, I need to connect with parents, other teachers, community agencies and the student to have a good understanding of each and every one of my students.
At the beginning of every semester I call ALL the parents of every student! I introduce myself and let them know about our class website and how to access it, how to contact me with any questions or concerns and I ask questions at this point about any behaviour issues or concerns I have seen with the student at this point. (I call within the first 2 weeks) I also send home a “School and Home Communication” sheet that parents and guardians need to fill out and return to school. This communication sheet tells me the best way for me to contact the parent and/or guardian, and it gives me all the important numbers or email addresses that I need from the parent to reach them if needed.
When needed I touch base with other teachers and community agencies to discuss strategies that may work for them with the student or sometimes to find out more information about a student that will help me, help them learn. Recently, I had a tutor of one of my students call me about what they could be working on with the student for science homework. I found this to be very helpful for me, as well as the student, being able to let the tutor know what we were working on and helping the student to stay on top of things in the class.
During class time I like to have conferences with my students throughout the semester to keep track of any outstanding work and how students are feeling about my class. This gives the students opportunities to touch base with me without looking like they may need extra help in front of their classmates. We all know that looking cool is important…well to a teenager it is! I want my students to know that they can email me at any time, drop in at lunch to ask questions, or just be able to approach me if needed. I want to be approachable for my students and their families.
Another way that I keep communication going throughout the semester is to send emails out to parents when we are doing something exciting or even just a reminder about a field trip or a due date. In my experience most parents are very receptive to this and appreciate me taking the time to keep them up to date.
I have found in the past that putting in a little extra time at the beginning (and it does take time!) makes the rest of the semester run so much smoother for everyone. Parents know how to contact me directly, they know how to keep informed about their child’s work and it gives me a better understanding of each student and the support they have at home and within the community. These simple strategies open the door to communication in my classroom so parents and students feel that they can come and talk to me and that my door of communication is always open!