Better together: building positive relationships between parents and teachers
Sarah Mullin, deputy headteacher and parent, discusses how teachers and parents can work together to do the best for young people.
Articles / 4 mins read
It is said that we never truly know the love of a parent until we become parents ourselves. Becoming a parent certainly changed my life both personally and professionally.
Every child deserves a champion
As I returned to work as a senior leader after maternity leave, I felt like I was experiencing school life through a fresh pair of eyes. Standing at the gates each morning as I welcomed students into school, I understood that every child is the apple of someone’s eye. As teachers, we are trusted to educate the hearts and minds of our pupils every single day. It is important that we always remember that this is a great honour which has been bestowed upon us. We must never forget that each mark on the register, each data point on a spreadsheet and each name on a behaviour referral form belongs to a child who is the centre of someone’s world.
of teachers said they felt that relationships with parents are now better than before the first lockdown
Parents know their child best
Just as we establish clear routines for our children at home, as teachers, we must have the highest expectations for our learners, showing pupils every single day that we believe in them and that we care about them. We must demonstrate mutual respect in our verbal and non-verbal interactions, seeking out ways that we can offer positive, specific praise which will motivate children, inspiring them to achieve their potential.
One of the best resources we can access as teachers is the knowledge, wisdom, and support of our parents/carers. It is important that we work collaboratively so that we can maximise the academic and pastoral outcomes of children and young people. Nobody knows a child better than their loved ones; we need to listen and learn from parents, encouraging open and honest conversations which allow everyone to work together in the best interests of the child.
"As teachers, we are trusted to educate the hearts and minds of our pupils every single day. "
Communication begins with connection
Establishing and maintaining positive working relationships with parents is central to ensuring a child’s success. Whilst school reports and parents’ evenings provide a great opportunity to engage in dialogue about a child’s achievements and attainments, it is always better to tackle issues as they occur throughout the year. Positive communication with parents enables them to support and encourage their children at home.
When my own children receive an award, a certificate, or a lovely message of praise in their homework diaries, my heart feels like it could burst with pride. As a teacher-parent, I realised the utter joy that a positive email home can bring, and a well-intentioned courtesy call can really make the difference if you’ve notice something isn’t quite right in terms of a child’s behaviour or attitude to learning. Very often the little things that happen at school can mean the world to parents: we should make the extraordinary out of the ordinary, cherishing the little wins that take place every single day.
We’re all in this together
Raising children can be challenging, yet it is also the most rewarding job in the world. Every day parents are navigating previously unchartered territory. Teachers can play an important role in helping parents to raise children who are kind, courteous, respectful, and happy. Working together is mutually beneficial. After all, we are all working towards the same goal: to enhance the learning experience for the child.
Parents and teachers, through the good times, the busy times and the many, many sleepless times, always remember that to the world you may be just one person, but to your child, you are the world.
Sarah Mullin is a Deputy Headteacher at an all-through school in the West Midlands. She was named a Rising Star in Education and Academia in 2020 and she is the recipient of the ‘Contribution to Education of the Year’ award. Sarah is the curator of ‘What They Didn’t Teach Me on My PGCE’ and the founder of #EduTeacherTips, a YouTube channel for teachers by teachers.
Watch our webinar ‘Getting the best out of parent-teacher relationships,’, a must-see for teachers and staff who want to improve or build on how they communicate with parents.
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