And Never Worry About Marks Again
By Amber Scotchburn, author of Parenting … With A Twist
Did you know that students whose parents are involved in their school have fewer behavioral problems and perform better academically? Did you know that positive parent-teacher interactions positively affect teachers’ self-perception and job satisfaction? Now that you know, here are seven things teachers and parents can do to foster this important relationship.
The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits health and happiness: every time you smile, the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine, endorphins and serotonin are released.1 Plus, smiles are contagious and I’d rather have my child come home from school having caught a smile than the flu!
- Build Rapport
“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” A person’s name is the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality. Building rapport is as easy as learning a name. When I was a teacher, I had the students make name cards for their desks and I bet them that I could memorize their names by the end of the first week. I should mention I was a high school teacher who could see 90–120 kids in a day, and I never lost the bet.
Parents, I’ll let you in on a little secret: teachers are human too. They even have first names and a life outside of their classroom. It would go a long way if you are already driving through Starbucks and you just happen to know the teacher’s favourite drink, to pick one up and bring it to them … with a smile of course!
- Create a Team Atmosphere
Set an intention from the beginning of the year, whether you are the parent or the teacher, to think of both of you as being on the same team. Your team’s goal is to ensure that Little Johnny has the best year ever.
But this is where it could get tricky. What if “best year ever” to the teacher means something different to the parent? Well, you are going to have to communicate, and trust that you will both be able to respect the other’s meaning.
For example, “best year ever” for a parent could mean that Little Johnny is able to get to school every day on time with a smile on his face and build up his confidence. “Best year ever” for the teacher could mean that Little Johnny behaves perfectly while acing all of his work. How do we reconcile the two?
- Respect and Trust Each Other
Parent-teacher teams that communicate well can share information about the student and work together to individualize learning approaches that best meet the student’s needs to make it the best year ever for all involved.
Parents, share with the teacher what you know about your child’s interests, skills and history that will help to paint a complete picture of the person your child is at this moment. Share any information that is likely to affect your child emotionally, mentally or physically.
Teachers, remember that parents may know a thing or two about the child in front of you! Sometimes as teachers we get so enmeshed in the curriculum we are delivering that we forget we are teaching a child. We also sometimes fail to remember that we have an expert on the child at our disposal—their parents. They can probably help you understand why Little Johnny does what he does.
This involves both parent and teacher showing each other enough respect to share key information or to be open to receiving significant information. It also means that both parties need to trust that the other will use the information shared in an effective manner that serves Little Johnny. Remember, we are all on the same team!
- Establish Healthy Communication
As in any fantastic relationship, communication is key.
First, it’s important to establish what method of communication works best for each party, be it email, phone calls or in-person meetings. Also, an agenda can be a very powerful daily communication tool.
Beyond the logistics, both parties will have to make a commitment to hear what the other is saying. If you’ve approached one another with a smile, established rapport, created a team atmosphere and begun to trust, then you’ve built the foundation for healthy communication.
The biggest reminder you need to give each other is that you are both working towards the same goal—helping Little Johnny be the best he can be.
- Use Positive Messages
Studies have suggested that it takes six positive comments to offset one negative one.2
Teachers, it would be great if you remembered this when speaking with students and when writing on their assignments. Parents are more supportive when they feel you are boosting their child’s confidence and not tearing it down.
This is also great to remember when you have to have any difficult conversations about Little Johnny’s behaviour or a mark his parent isn’t happy about. Celebrate what Little Johnny is doing well and then see how you and the parents can bridge the gap together.
- Be a Role Model
Role modelling is a way of signaling what’s appropriate in terms of your behavior, your actions, your activities and your beliefs. Parents and teachers, you are both role models—24/7. Be conscious of this!
Parents, remember that your children are always listening. If you decide to tell another parent about the things Little Johnny’s teacher did that upset you, be sure to do it when the children aren’t around. Or better yet, have a conversation with the teacher to figure out what’s going on.
Teachers, how you treat students in your class will affect how others see and treat them. How you speak to children will influence how they see themselves. Again, remember how enthralled a parent will be if you are the reason Little Johnny is smiling and believes he can take on the world.
We’d love to hear from you as you try out one or all of these seven tips. Maybe you can even add a tip of your own in the comments below.
About the Author
Amber Scotchburn is an internationally recognized parenting expert and the author of Parenting … With A Twist. She is also the founder of Tutoring … With A Twist.
Social worker, teacher, CEO, bestselling author and nationally sought-after parenting expert, Amber Scotchburn finally provides what the everyday parent is looking for: parenting tips to help YOU be the parent you’ve always wanted to be. The everyday parent includes co-parents, single parents, step-parents (or, as Amber likes to call them, Bonus Parents), dads, moms, new parents … and the list goes on!
Sound too good to be true? Request a preview of Parenting … With A Twist to discover Amber and her way of reaching the everyday parent—someone just like you!
- Seaward BL. Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett; 2009:258
- Losada M. Heaphy E. The Role of Positivity and Connectivity in the Performance of Business Teams: A Nonlinear Dynamics Model. American Behavioural Scientist. 200.4