Communications Tips for Sped Teachers
Today's guest blog is from Alex's former teacher Crystle Hocker, now with Somers (N.Y.) Central School District. Teachers all over the world have requested these tips.
- Indicate the importance of teacher/ parent collaboration and communication for the success of the student. I’ve done this in a welcome letter to parents in the beginning of the year.
- Communication notebook – try to write in each students notebook at least three times, even if the parents do not write back to you. They read it more often than you think and writing to parents throughout the week keeps them informed of the good (and the bad) that is happening. Being informed also makes school less intimating.
- Phone calls – A lot of parents find phone calls much more meaningful and personal (although its important to remember, that parents have jobs and often cannot be reached during school hours). I’ve also taken it a step further and have texted with a parent who is legally deaf as a means of communicating.
- Weekly Newsletter: Keep it simple! Use a template (often found in those teacher plan books) and just jot down what happened during the week: what units you are currently working on, any special events that are occurring, any students birthdays, school breaks (and when parent teacher conferences are occurring!). Again, if parents feel like they are informed they will be more likely attend events or conferences.
Even if you don’t get responses back from parents, they’re not writing back to you or they don’t answer your phone calls, don’t stop communicating! Eventually they will communicate and when IEP meetings or Parent Teacher Conferences are scheduled, they are more likely to drop by. School (and you) is not this ominous thing! They feel like they know you.
Remember, whether you are writing home, sending a text message, doing a newsletter or phoning home, end conversations with “it was so good to talk and how much you appreciate their time”. Even if you are communicating to inform them of something “bad”, end with something good! The “your son (or daughter) has been making so much progress this year and has even learned… I’m very proud of him (or her) as you should be too!” is always a crowd pleaser and again makes school communications not necessarily a scary or bad thing.
I don’t rely on one means of communication for all of my parents in my classroom. I use a variety of sources to stay in touch. Some of parents are never capable of talking to me on the phone so it’s vital for me to write in those students’ communication notebooks as often as possible. Likewise, I have students whose parents don’t read the notebooks, so, I call home as much as I can. The key is to find out what works best for your parents and use it!