Opening the door wide open for parent communication can sometimes be a scary thing — fear of the unknown, previous negative experiences, and limitations on time can all add up to create some understandable hesitation.
But each time I have chosen to lay aside these fears, I have always gained — not only in the way of building bridges with parents, but in learning how to improve my practices.
Here’s one example that has stuck with me:
A month into the school year, I started sending emails to all my students’ parents to touch bases, provide encouragement, and to build rapport.
To one of my student’s parents, I sent praise of her willingness to “be an example,” to “stay on task and participate,” and to “step out of her comfort zone to offer ideas” (as she was one of my quieter students).
I hit send and didn’t think twice — until I read her dad’s response:
“This is very helpful. Thank you for taking time with her. She really is a bright young lady. As an extra note, she has some real strength in analyzing math, science and comprehension. It seems that your approach will really reenergize her confidence in these learning skills.”
I never will know for sure whether her dad even intended this as any kind of rebuke, but that was certainly how it translated for me, and rightly so. For I had been so content with how compliant and agreeable his daughter was, I had overlooked her much more powerful strengths.
This father’s gracious response has stayed with me ever since. It stands as a reminder that we owe it to our students to dig deeper to help them uncover their passion, their power, their potential.
While we’re grateful for our students that don’t feel the need to violently rock the boat day in and day out, sometimes, their very lack of any boat-rocking can be cause for concern. We should dedicate time toward finding out why they are content to hide in the shadows, just as we dedicate time toward working with our regular boat-rockers on how to funnel their efforts more appropriately.
So keep sending those emails to parents. Keep searching out feedback. After all, the ones who benefit most from our doing so are our students.
featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto