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Awesome Teachers Make Personal Connections With Student Families (GMTT – #3)

I’m going to be 100% honest here, when I have taught all day, and wrangled children, and dealt with hard coworkers, and barely have had time to use the restroom or eat… the last thing I want to do is call up an unknown parent and shoot the breeze. And I definitely don’t want talk to them about behavior issues. HOWEVER, when I do finally muster up the will power to call up a family, I have never regretted having that social capital. And that social capital is why awesome teachers make personal connections with student families.

What It Does For You

I usually write how to do it first, but for this post, it makes way more sense to say the pros of connections before describing the methods.

How To Do It

Connecting with families does not always need to be phone calls. It can be emails, notes home, a school night, sometimes a text, or a home visit. Here are the general guidelines I believe need to be used to ensure you gain the social capital that comes with connections:

  1. Put your students on a list and document how often you communicate with families. Pick 2 or 3 families a week so it doesn’t become overwhelming… remember this is supposed to only take 5-10% more effort!
  2. Try to talk with families at least every few months.
  3. Pick a communication method that is sustainable for you as the teacher and is also practical for the situation. As a special education teacher, it rarely made sense to send a note home to make a personal connection with families. I wasn’t in the student’s life as much as the other teachers, and students lost my correspondences a lot.
  4. You (the teacher) need to make sure that the communication is actually reaching the parents. This means you need to ask for response back with notes, have follow up, etc.
  5. If one form of communication is not getting a response from parents, try a different method. I usually try twice before changing it up.
  6. Try least invasive methods first. And when possible, try to schedule a home visit before coming over.
  7. Remember the point is to create a connection. Try to be positive when you reach out!

Here’s some ideas of what to talk about with parents to gain social capital:

Wrapping It Up

To keep this from getting overwhelming, try to make it in bite size chunks each week. That’s the key here, and that will keep it at a 5-10% amount of effort. You’ve got this! Go connect!

Let me know if you have some difficulties connecting that I didn’t bring up here!

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