Do you find it difficult to manage parents’ expectations as a teacher?
Working as a classroom teacher means wearing more than one different personality in a single day. You are tasked with being the master of your craft and the relentless cheerleader for those students who are, shall we say, less enthusiastic. At the end of the day, not only do you face stacks of grading and planning, but also phone calls, emails, and conferences with a group of people that can be hard to please: parents.
Parent-teacher relationships are an important aspect of students’ success because both parties are the early influencers of a child’s lifestyle. Parental involvement is ideal for a child’s educational progress and is mostly indispensable. However, parents come to the classroom with unrealistic expectations, especially with the state of the educational sector. So, how do teachers manage parents’ expectations, while still being respectful and solution-focused? Here are some realistic tips to help you manage parents’ expectations.
Stimulate Data-Driven Conversations
When discussing with parents who put a lot of pressure on seeing their students emerge with high grades, it is important to have a good selection of individual student data to make your points. Let parents know that you are concerned about their children whilst showing data that explains the reality of their child’s performance.
Most parents are oblivious of the fact that the academic success of their child depends on many intangible factors such as personality or background. But being able to point to the student’s work and the factors you use to measure achievement can help parents get a clearer picture of their child’s academic weaknesses and strengths. Data-driven conversations not only allow you as a teacher to handle the excesses of parents, but it also helps parents limit their expectations or have none entirely.
In addition to that, practice open communication, provide a clear picture of what the classroom day looks like and why. Open communications—including regular emails, phone calls, meetings, and even social media—ensures that parents see teaching and learning as a process that sometimes involves failure.
Introduce the next steps
After explaining the reason behind a child’s academic performance, you can begin shifting the conversation to the next steps. Suggest ways parents can help the student improve. Be clear that you welcome the idea of discussing parental concerns but emphasize that student improvement will also require student effort. In other words, parents should not leave the conversation feeling as if the conversation will get the student a better grade.
Additionally, you can get to know your students better via their parents. Communicating with them could help you understand how the child behaves at home and what technique is best for the child.
Stay committed to the school, classroom, and students
When teachers quit in the middle of the year, it sows parental distrust in the educational system. Letting parents know that you are committed to discharging your duties and dedicated to giving kids the best education possible puts them at ease. And that commitment should extend to being a part of your students’ community as much as possible.
It is unhealthy to tell students that their parents said awful things about them. It breaches trust between the teacher and the parent, and affects the parent-child relationship between the parent and the child. And this is not ideal. Let students trust you, and let their parents trust you too. Ideally, someone who feels safe to talk to you about anything will have little or no expectations, as there would be nothing to worry about.
Although you cannot completely stop parents from having expectations, working closely with parents can be a productive experience for students who struggle. And using a combination of data and honest communication can help you manage parents’ expectations while improving the student’s chances for academic success. As the person in charge of their child for much of the day, working with parents is a two-way street. It is also important to agree about what parents should expect from you. Use these tips to form a strong relationship, and your students will benefit in many ways.