Parent Communication Tips to Reduce Stress & Save Time.

Dr. Kara Stern
3 min read
Graphic woman with a loudspeaker and text message symbols.

I have made some really bad communication gaffes with parents.

😬 The time I sent a school newsletter reversing the dates & times on a bunch of events, causing parents to either show up at the wrong time or to miss them all together.

😫 Or when I forwarded an email to my principal from a complaining parent in which I described the child’s behavior in, um, strong terms, but accidentally replied to the parent’s email instead of forwarding it.  

🙄 I sent a bulletin announcing a new program for students who needed extra help. When someone mentioned it at a PTA meeting months later, a mom who hadn’t signed her kid up turned to me in shock. “Why didn’t you tell me about this?”

“I sent an email to the whole community,” I replied.

“Well, I didn’t get that email,” she said.

Adding, “and anyway, you knew it was something my kid needed so I’m frustrated you didn’t reach out to me directly.” I went back to my office and checked the analytics. Sure enough, she had not only gotten it, she had opened it. But was she right? Was I responsible for reaching out to her individually, if I informed everyone?

In hindsight, I think I was.

Some parents are harder to reach than others.

Maybe it’s because they are new to English, maybe it’s life circumstances, or maybe it’s an issue of personality. But it means we have to work harder to reach them. A recent study found that email is not enough.

Beyond outreach, there’s also the challenge of making parents feel welcome. Included.

This 2-part template is a good way to get started.

The first part has 4 resources for effectively communicating with parents, with tips for what lines of communication to open & when, and how to work with a variety of different kinds of parents. The second part is a sample Weekly Classroom Update that teachers can simply duplicate & personalize.

Just click here to get started. And good luck!

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Dr. Kara Stern

Dr. Kara Stern began her career as an ELA teacher, then shifted into administration as a middle school principal. Dr. Stern is a fervent advocate for equitable communication and family engagement. She spent five years as Executive Director at Math for America, where she designed the professional learning community that exists to this day. An unexpected move to Tel Aviv launched her into the world of EdTech where she became the Director of Education Content for Smore and then the Head of Education Solutions at SchoolStatus. Outside of work, she indulges her love for reading, devouring two novels weekly, with a particular fondness for heists and spy stories.

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