Week 2.4: The Great Communicator

Why does communication keep popping up? It appears in the previous seven posts in some form or other – being a well-rounded person, talking to your administrator and co-workers without fear, etc. Communication may be the most important part of your teaching job – a happy fact for some, a not-so-thrilling fact for others.

At work, I was recently part of a discussion on super-powers! If you could have one super-power, what would it be? I invariably go for being able to fly (think how much money you could save on plane tickets!) but the majority of the group voted for a more communicative power – being able to read minds, for example. The most double-edged sword of super-powers! Can you imagine being able to read your students’ minds? I shiver just thinking about it.

spock-mind-meld

But the point is that communication is difficult in every career and relationship. Pretty much everything we do relies on others. So here are some no-holds-barred recommendations for communication in teaching:

  1. Send at least 10 parents an email update on their student’s progress every week. You can write generic and short notes and use them to save time; as long as you don’t forget to change the names. You can proceed alphabetically through your roster, if that is easiest, or develop your own system. Parents appreciate the recognition even more than the students do!
  1. Before parent-teacher conferences, send a personal email asking parents to attend. Keep it enthusiastic – you can’t wait to meet them and tell them about everything that is going on in class. It is well-known that the 15% of parents that show up to conferences are generally the parents of the straight-A students. Parents, we miss you. Come talk to us.
  1. Choose a day about a month into the school year and invite parents to attend your class with their students on that day – this isn’t just for elementary and music classes!
  1. Send your administrator an update on your classroom progress and on your teaching ideas every month. Also let him/her know all this communication with parents you have been doing.
  1. Have a classroom blog, website, announcement page, Facebook page, anything. Be that person at your school who the other teachers come to for communication advice.
  1. Actually DO these things.

Seem overwhelming? But by taking an hour a week to do these six things, think how much time you will save explaining yourself later. Remember how your students will not be able to fudge to their parents about your classroom assignments and goals. (Students are trustworthy, but that doesn’t mean they take the time to communicate.) Consider that you are creating a positive foundation before any misunderstandings take place, as they are bound to do. (Remember how much time you will save with a super-power like flying.)

And please share your communication stories/recommendation stories in a comment below or email them to teachingismadhard@gmail.com!

professor-x-mind-read

Enjoy these resources about communication:

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/five-keys-successful-parent-teacher-communication

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/20-tips-developing-positive-relationships-parents-elena-aguilar

http://theparentacademy.dadeschools.net/pdfs/Effective_Communication.pdf

 

Next week, we’ll talk about “Blowing off Steam” with some statistics of teacher-dropout rates. Hey, students aren’t the only ones with dropout rates! And for those of you who only have one week until school is out for the holiday season, Happy Holidays to you!

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