Are you a new teacher, struggling to come up with the perfect classroom management plan? If so, you are not alone! Classroom management is one of the biggest challenges all first-year teachers face. A positive classroom management system involves many parts. You’re probably aware of some of those parts such as creating classroom rules and building relationships with students, but there are other important classroom management strategies that often get overlooked. Here is one of the most important aspects of classroom management that many people forget to tell new teachers!
The Best Classroom Management Solution No One Talks About
We often hear how important it is to form relationships with students in order to build a positive classroom community where students behave and get along with one another. What is often overlooked is that forming relationships extends beyond the walls of the classroom. Not only should you form relationships with students, but your classroom management plan should also involve forming relationships with parents.
When you read that, you might have just felt a tinge of anxiety. Trust me, I totally get it! When I was a first-year teacher, I was terrified of parents and the thought of making phone calls gave me stomach cramps. But, over time, I have learned that building relationships with families is one of the most effective strategies for managing behavior problems in the classroom and getting the support you need as a teacher.
Why This Classroom Management Plan Matters
Unfortunately, we live in a time when parents are not afraid to talk about teachers in front of kids at home. Fifty years ago, this likely wouldn’t have happened because what the teacher said was enforced at home. This is less common today. You want to do your best to ensure that what parents say about you as a teacher is positive. If the students are only hearing negative things about you outside of school, they will start acting out at school. Parents are more likely to say positive things about you if they like and trust you. This is done by communicating regularly to form a relationship.
Another reason why it is important to include parents in your classroom management plan is because the more parents like you, the more they will support you. As teachers, we need all the help can get! If a parent likes you, they are more likely to say “yes” when you ask them to help with homework, help with negative behaviors, or volunteer in the classroom.
An Action Plan for Getting Started
You may be wondering, “How in the world do I begin forming relationships with parents.” Or, you may be nervous to get started. Either way, here are five tips to help with this important classroom management strategy.
Talk About Positive Behavior
Think about a person you love. It could be a child, a spouse, or a parent. How would you feel if someone only ever told you negative things about that person that you love? You might start avoiding them or you might even get angry with them. This is what happens to parents when they only hear negative things about their child from school.
Communicating positive behaviors and good things that happen to parents should be a key part of your classroom management plan. I always start the school year by calling every home after the first week of school to let parents know how happy I am to have their children in my classroom. This allows them to hear something good about their child before they ever hear something bad. After that, I touch base every one to two months to share something positive with each parent.
Use Different Communication Strategies
As an introverted person, I hate talking on the phone. I will put off making a phone call until the absolute last minute because it is not something that I enjoy. If this describes you, keep in mind that not all communication has to be done over the phone. You can also send emails, text messages, or letters home. I also like using the communication feature in Class Dojo to send messages directly to parents’ phones.
Follow Through With Your Classroom Management Plan
Without trust, you cannot develop a positive relationship with your students’ parents. Building trust comes from doing what you say. If you tell a parent you will call home at a certain time, be sure to call at that time. If you tell a parent you will spend time helping their child with their times tables, be sure you do exactly that. Being consistent and following through with what you say will show parents that you care about their child and their family can count on you.
Never Give Up
Is there a parent that you’ve tried to reach out to but they never respond? I’ve definitely been there! Even if a parent refuses to return your calls or communicate with you, it is important to never stop trying. The fact that you keep trying even when they do not answer will show that you care.
A few years ago, I had a student who made some big improvements throughout the year. Every few weeks, I would call his mom and leave a voice message, letting her know how he was doing and how much I enjoyed having him as a student. The mom never responded, but I didn’t stop leaving the messages. When I finally met the mom in person at the end of the school year, she gave me a hug and told me that I was the best teacher her son ever had. Even though she had never responded to me throughout the year, those consistent phone calls meant so much to her.
Successful Classroom Management Includes Documentation
When it comes to communicating with parents, one of the most important things to keep in mind is to document everything! First, it is hard to keep track of what you say to the parents of every student in your class. Maintaining documentation will give you a quick reference guide so that you can easily review what you have shared with parents and when you shared it.
Second, documentation protects you. I once had a student who was failing. I called and emailed the parents many times, but never received a response. After report cards went home, the parent came into the school, yelling that she was not aware her child was failing and wanted him removed from my class. At first, the principal believed the parent, accusing me of not doing what I was supposed to do. I quickly pulled out my parent documentation form for that student. The principal apologized for wrongly accusing me of doing a poor job after she saw the list with the number of times I called home, a summary of the voicemail I left for each phone call, and copies of all the emails I had sent.
There are many ways you can document communication with parents. The video below shows how I create a documentation form using Google Sheets.
An important part of any classroom management plan is building relationships. What many often forget to tell new teachers is that building relationships extends beyond the classroom and should also include building relationships with parents and families. When families like and trust you, they will talk positively about you around their child and will give you the support teachers desperately need. Communicating with parents can be intimidating, especially for new teachers. A few things to keep in mind when forming relationships with parents are:
- Don’t just talk about negative behaviors. Be sure to share positive things too!
- Utilize multiple forms of communication such as phone, email, and teaching apps.
- Follow through with everything you say to a parent.
- Don’t stop communicating just because the parent chooses not to respond.
- Be sure to document everything!
If you are a new teacher, looking for additional ideas and support, be sure to download my free New Teacher Survival Guide. This guide is packed with 15 proven strategies to help new teachers successfully navigate their first year in the classroom.
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