How To Achieve Open Communication Between Parents and Teachers?
Written by Senior Teacher Pauline Grace Pascual Flores
According to Meador (2019), a positive parent-teacher relationship contributes to maximum learning in school.
Open communication is important for a strong home-school partnership. Teachers and parents connect by setting common goals, and planning consistent strategies for the children’s benefit.
Have you heard of the ‘5Rs’ to achieving a healthy home-school relationship?
They are as follows:
- Respond vs React
- RECOGNIZE – is defined as identify, acknowledge or accept.
In any relationship, it is easy to recognize strengths, milestones and achievements. However, acknowledging gaps and areas for improvement are often difficult to address, and are areas that parents and teachers tend to disagree.
Parents and teachers must recognize that matters brought up during a parent-teacher conference are focused on how to help the child improve. For example, if the teacher shares that the child is weak in reading, and has come up with a set of strategies to help this child, it will directly benefit the child if the parent works hand-in-hand to carry out those strategies. When the parent recognizes the child’s weakness and accepts the set of strategies suggested by the teacher, it eases the journey ahead to help the child improve. Eventually, it is the achievement of common goals for the child that is important.
- REFLECT – Oftentimes, people react first to any situation before reflecting. This could lead to many misunderstandings and problems in communication. Reflection helps us to focus on key issues of a situation, resulting in empathy from the listener. On the other hand, when we react first, we put our emotions over our reasoning to the situation. Reflecting, ties feelings and reasoning, helping us to re-focus on the original purpose, which in this case, is the healthy development of the child.
- RESPOND vs. REACT – Reacting is answering with the first word, feeling, or action that comes into mind. Responding involves taking a moment to think about what is really going on before you answering.
How we respond to a situation often determines the outcome of it. As teachers, it is our responsibility to respond in a timely manner to parents on a given situation. A teacher’s wise response to a given situation, after establishing the facts through investigation, will assure parents that you really care. On the other hand, the parent’s understanding in granting time for the investigation into a matter is important to sustaining the partnership. Hence, the response in an open communication is two-way.
- RESOLUTION – Communication can only be considered effective when it creates development and progress. Communication between parents and teachers will be fruitless if there is no attempt to resolve or improve what has been discussed. If a parent approaches a teacher to share his son’s interests, this sharing will only be beneficial if the information given is taken in consideration by the teacher when she plans for future activities or learning corners. Likewise, if a teacher shares an observation on the child’s learning style, the parent can design activities at home towards supporting his child’s learning style.
- RESPECT – The key to any healthy and trusting relationship is respect. Finding the right words to use and coming in with a mind and heart open for discussion of new ideas are crucial. The importance of active listening cannot be over-emphasized. There must be mutual respect for the information and feelings shared during the decision-making process. In open communication, always keep in mind that it is not your job to make someone agree with you. It is okay to agree to disagree, though always bearing in mind the main objective is to enhance learning in our children.
The above-mentioned ‘5Rs’ are just a few tips for a healthy and respectful communication between teachers and parents. Fostering an environment for open discussion will help parents and teachers in achieving the common objectives set for their children.