Chances are that if you clicked on this article, you are a teacher! Hey me too! Chances are also that you worry about what your students’ parents think about you….again..me too! Meet me: Total type A, twenty-something, hard-working, third-grade teacher. Now, right now my husband and I just moved to Germany with the Army, so I am in between “normal” teaching jobs at the moment, but I taught the past two years in a small town school in Missouri. Thinking back to my first two years teaching; there were parts that I loved with all my heart….and things I hated with all my heart. The biggest thing I hated about teaching was the judgment. It’s freaking everywhere! As a teacher you have a unique job…you don’t just clock in every day, please your boss then clock out….oh boy howdy no! Instead, you spend an entire year with 25+ kids, all their parents, your co-workers, and your administration watching you make sure you don’t mess up. Now, I could handle (most of the time) the pressure of impressing my coworkers or the administration because that is pretty much just part of being an adult with a job. What I struggled with was the parents of my 25+ kiddos. They can be brutal….just brutal.
I don’t have any kids yet myself but I can only imagine the amount of passion that goes into raising, hoping, and standing up for your child. For that reason, I get why parents can come across as “know it all” or judgmental towards you as their child’s teacher. We as teachers have to remember that they are sending their own flesh and blood…part of their heart to school for 8 hours of each and every weekday to be stuck in a room with you and only you as their adult guidance. They want to make sure you don’t screw their kid up! Talk about pressure!
During my time as a teacher, I researched and tried out many different ways to “get parents to like me.” If found that when parents liked me or had a good impression of who I am from the start the whole year was easier, and best of all the kid benefited from having a united parent/teacher combo! Here’s a list of my favorite ways!
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Top Ways to Make Parents Like You
Start out Strong- Summer Time is all About Sunshine and Rainbows Right?
Before school even starts, gather your new kiddo list and send a postcard in the mail! Or emails work great too! It doesn’t have to be anything long and fancy, just introduce yourself, and tell them how honored you are to be able to work with their kiddo! Make sure you invited them to meet the teacher night and make them feel welcomed!
The First Month of School
Send an individualized email to each parent! When I did this, I would try and do two-three kids a day. Start at the top of your roaster and work your way down. Simply brag about the kid! Example: I just wanted to touch base with you and let you know how much I love having Jimmy in class! He is such a positive and happy kid! I have already noticed he really enjoys math!
The Sandwich Approach
Start off from the beginning on a positive note about the kid, that way when little Jimmy punches Bob it isn’t such a sting when you make that phone call saying you’re having a behavior problem! Don’t forget in the following days or week after a negative interaction, send another quick email that is more positive! Bam! You have yourself a sweet sandwich!
Send Thank You Notes
ANY time a parent sends in a snack, helps out with copies, emails you about a concern….whip out your secret stash of Thank you cards and pop one in the mail or stick it in the kid’s backpack! Just letting parents know that you noticed they went out of their way can really help later when you need to ask for parent volunteers for your next field trip.
Example: I just wanted to say thank you for bringing your concern about Jimmy’s math grade to my attention. I am so glad we are able to work together to help Jimmy do and feel great here at school! Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any other issues or concerns going forward!
I just LOVE these simple watercolor set of thank you cards! They are perfect for stashing in your desk until you need them! Click here to get yours.
Let Them Know you are an Active Listener
When parent-teacher conferences swing around or you get that nasty parent email be sure to start off your response as respectful as possible. Remeber you are dealing with this person’s BABY! Even if they were rude…remind them how much you care about their son/daughter and understand what they are saying before you go into defense mode.
Listen to the Kids
Kids talk…a lot…so listen! When a student tells you their mom/dad is having surgery that day, or grandma is sick, or xyz then send mom/dad an email saying you heard about ____ and just wanted to let them know you’re thinking about them! Bam! It only took you about 45 seconds and you have a parent loving you!
I know the most popular phrase line in the teaching world is: “Really? Another thing to do?” I get it! BUT knowing that parents can either be your best backing or your worst enemy this is a really worthwhile thing to add to your already super long to do list!
Struggling with Parent Engagement? Click here for your free resource list!
Happy Teaching Friends!