Written by: Martha Bjorklund, Head of Lower Campus
Communication between parents and teachers should go beyond reports and parent-teacher conferences. Keeping the conversation open between parents and teachers is vital to student success.
Several of us at Palm Beach Day Academy across both campuses freely and happily give out our cell numbers to parents, encouraging them to use us as a resource should they have any concerns about their children. While this isn’t the standard for each and every class and grade, it reflects the school’s attitude that our teachers and administrators are here to share in both the celebrations and the struggles that our students experience at school and at home.
At the end of the day, you, your child’s school and the teacher are all working toward the same goal: to help your child develop, learn, and ultimately become their best self.
The following are four successful strategies we have seen over the years to help parents better engage with both their child’s teachers and their school:
1. Imperfection is OK
We all aim to raise well-behaved children with perfect manners and unwavering respect for others. We can honestly say that we see that behavior more often than not at PBDA. However, children are just as human as adults, and they make mistakes too. They aren’t always honest, nor do they always do what is best for themselves or their classmates. They are still learning what it means to be good communicators. Barring any extreme circumstances, imperfection at PBDA is OK and even encouraged, as this is often the best way for students to learn and grow. Don’t be hard on yourselves, your child, or their teacher if and when they occasionally fall down. And when they do, do your best to equip them with the tools to pick themselves back up.
2. Stay Engaged
You know all of those emails, texts, and newsletter updates you see your school send out? They are sent for a reason. We live in a culture of oversharing and information overload, and PBDA understands the delicate balance of over-and under-communicating with our families. We strive to uphold our pledge to always do our best in sharing with you in a timely fashion the most important information that you need to know as parents. Simultaneously, communication is always a two-way street, and it’s important that you do monitor and absorb what we are sending out as it, more likely than not, will apply to you and your child.
3. Tone is Key
Research indicates that roughly 93% of communication is nonverbal and that 38% is actually based on the tone of voice. Whether or not these numbers apply to your life, it’s important to recognize that words are only one part of communication. Just as we teach our students that tone and delivery of a message are key, we must also practice what we preach as adults. Keep this in mind before any conversation you may need to have with your child’s teachers. A simple twist of words can make a big difference. “My child could use support with ___. What can I do to help?” opens the door to further conversation and problem-solving, rather than: “there is a problem – what are you planning on doing about it?”
4. Respect the Chain of Command
Schools often have a chain of command that helps to direct parents to the right person should they need assistance or have a question. For most circumstances at PBDA, parents will first be directed to resolve any classroom issues with their child’s teacher. One of the primary benefits of this policy is it allows further strengthening of the relationship and trust between teachers and parents. Direct communication between the two parties who play a crucial role in the child’s development helps to build a solid foundation that great teaching is built upon.
If problems escalate or remain unresolved, the Head of Lower or Upper Campus should be contacted. If going through this appropriate chain of communication does not bring a resolution, then please contact the Head of School.