Classroom Management: Parent Contact

Image of two parents helping a child with homework


Contacting parents is often something that challenges many teachers both new and veteran. How can you begin to develop educational partnerships with parents to benefit the students?

Make sure you log all contacts you make between students and parents. If possible, try to identify your "troubled" students early in the year and make home visits to establish the connection with parents/guardian by focusing on the positives. Follow up with calls to update on the student's progress every now and then. If you are calling regarding an action that needs to be corrected, always start off by addressing something positive about the student, then state the action(s) that needs correction, asking the parent for their cooperation.


The Bait and Switch Strategy

Some teachers will begin the parent conversation with a positive comment about their student such as, "Alex always takes the initiative in class by..." This positive comment is then followed by their concern, "But I'm concerned that his initiative can cause classroom disruptions because he is so eager to ..." This strategy approaches the issue in a positive way rather than starting the conversation with "He did this" or "He said that". This strategy also takes the blame game out of the equation, so the parent doesn't feel as though you are accusing them for their student's misbehavior in class.

The Start Positive Strategy

Another strategy for parent contact would be to initiate the conversation at the beginning of the year before any major discipline or academic issues arise. It is often clear to teachers at the start of the year who the trouble or potentially troublesome students are in class. By using this strategy, teachers can begin the conversation with parents on a positive note so that later in the year if you need to call home, the tone has already been set.

For example, a teacher might call home and say, "Mr. Smith, I am so excited to have Melissa in my class this year. I can already tell that she is very interactive in class and loves to participate!" For this teacher, the student, Melissa, might actually speak out of turn or shout out an answer or comment and therefore become a classroom disruption. By initiating the conversation positively, the parent can be aware of their student's behavior in class before misbehavior occurs.

The Follow-Up Strategy

After placing a phone call with a parent about student misbehavior, a good strategy to repair or strengthen that parent relationship is to place another parent phone call and inform them of their student's positive behavior within two weeks or sooner if possible.

For example, a follow-up phone call might look something like this, "Hi Ms. Robbins, I just wanted to tell you how proud I am of Tommy for completing his work on time all week! He has improved so much since our last conversation and I am so excited to see what he can do next week! Thank you so much for your help, it really shows your commitment to your child's education. Please let me know if you notice any changes in your child's behavior that I should know about."