Parent / Teacher Translation: How to speak the same language

Parent / Teacher Translation: How to speak the same language

As teachers there is definitely a particular trait that we almost always find to be true; where there are students, there are parents.  Our classrooms are filled with bright, precocious, vibrant kids many of whom are itching to learn new things or hoping to be inspired.  Those children are comfortable with new technology and their only frames of reference are the environments in which they currently operate; the same cannot be said of their parents.  Whether a parent is incredibly engaged with their child’s education or happy to trust in the teachers of the school, it is vital for us as educators to find ways to communicate more effectively with parents, at every level.  As part of our remit to improve educational standards across the board, it is more and more evident that preparing more successfully for a child’s future takes more than just one teacher or mentor.  The more we are able to collectively work together, the more we are able to spot challenges, accommodate nuances and adapt learning principles to achieve better results.  The old adage ‘it takes a village’ is never more appropriate than when applied to the field of education and we owe it to our students to do all that we can. 

The reality is that communicating with the parents of our students can be a challenge.  They often won’t be aware of evolutions in learning methodologies and only have their own experiences to fall back on.  They might find themselves struggling to help with homework that employs new technologies or techniques and could falter at seeing the benefits of these changes.  But cultivating a strong partnership between teachers and parents can have vastly beneficial consequences.  If we are able to take a little bit of time (of which we know you have very little!) to find the best ways to voice concerns, objectives and reasoning, it could have a lasting impact on the future potential of the child in question. 

Take off your ‘school’ terminology hat

It can be very easy for us to slip into phrases and names that are somewhat ‘internal’ in nature.  Perhaps they are specific to our school in particular or they may be wider known educational terms, but either way, chances are the parents we are talking to won’t know them.  If you are able to catch yourself, you are less likely to use words that parents might struggle with which means they will grasp far more of the story you are trying to convey. 

See another point of view

The role of a teacher is integral in a child’s development and educational progress, but the more we can involve and inspire the parents to help, the easier our jobs will be.  Thinking about their point of view prior to conversations could help us communicate more effectively.  You may have something you wish to raise about their child, but consider the best way to approach that and what their visual of that might be, including if it might not be something they have even noticed or considered. 

Help them be inspired by new frontiers

Many parents will have had an entirely different school experience from the children currently in our classrooms.  From the advanced technology tools we use to teach to the new approaches to learning, they may be easily confused by our methodologies.  Helping them to understand why a new path is more effective, particularly for the benefit of their own child’s learning, will go a long way to their support of your role.  If they are keen to understand some of the advanced technology further, consider suggesting ways they can study up themselves so that they are better equipped to help at home. 

Suggest ways to involve them

The majority of parents will want to be as involved as they can be in their child’s education, especially when they understand how much it can impact their future and their potential.  They may be unaware of the multitude of ways in which they can play a greater role in helping their child succeed.  If you see an opportunity to offer guidance or suggestions to parents, they may be grateful for the thoughtfulness that gives them more of a chance to lend a hand. Perhaps it could be with a project or study timetables, a school activity or event?  They may even have a career that it could be useful to have the whole class learn about?  Parents of current children could be a valuable resource that could enhance the experience of all of your students.

Most parents understand how much hard work teachers give to the development and growth of their little ones, but offering a little understanding, explanation and appropriate suggestions could certainly help you communicate more effectively.  All parents hope for the best for their children, in whatever they decide to do, but many parents aren’t at all informed about what that might be. Teachers have an opportunity to bridge that knowledge gap and often provide invaluable advice about future options that the parents might never have even considered. 

Have you faced any challenges with parents?  Have you got any useful tips on how to help talk to them about issues or suggestions?  Join the conversation via our social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin or email us at info@tellalinstitute.com

Sheryl Lee Rogers
Senior Manager – Digital Professional Learning & Development
Parent / Teacher Translation: How to speak the same language
Sheryl is responsible for the design, development and deployment of digital resources and environments that are at the heart of TELLAL’s methodologies.
Parent / Teacher Translation: How to speak the same language
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