Why Building Relationships is One of the Most Essential Parts of Teaching

Building relationships is one of the most essential part of teaching. This post talks about how to work with parents, students and colleagues.

Building relationships is one of the most essential parts of teaching. When we hear relationships about the school, we immediately think of the student-teacher relationship. While this relationship is significant, it is only a piece to building the community with the family and their child to form a strong team. Everyone has to work together to meet the common goal of the student having a successful school year.

Build relationships by Working as a Team

The “team” has to communicate consistently to build and maintain a strong relationship. This task can overwhelm a teacher who has to create these “teams” with 25+ students. It does take time, but it is worth it and will significantly impact your students and your school year.

Relationships start with a Positive Open House

In schools in my county, teachers call their students during pre-planning to introduce themselves as their teacher and to invite the students to open house. Many times this is the first time “meeting” the family. You have to be upbeat, excited, and authentic. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Make it good!

Open House is your next (or first) interaction with your new students and their families. Open House is busy and overwhelming, but being present is essential. Make a point to speak and begin building a connection with your students and their families. Open House isn’t a time or place to have a parent-teacher conference but a time to connect. A couple of present minutes with your students and their families will build the foundation for a solid relationship.

Building Relationships in the first Week

In the first two weeks of school, I call all my parents to share compliments, stories, and/or positive comments. After that, you can make a couple of calls a day. This spreads it out and makes it a more manageable task. I began doing this when I first started teaching. I felt a little silly doing it because I was a new teacher and no one else was doing it, but I thought it added value to the relationships I built. As I began to see its positive impact, I realized it is ok to go against the grain when your instincts lead you down a different path than others.

Tracking communications

To help keep track of parent/family communication, I use a notebook. I keep notes for each call and email with dates and a short note about the contact. I send a positive email every two weeks. Every six weeks, I make a positive phone call. Once it becomes a habit, it becomes an authentic part of your schedule. I use email to share “brag moments” and celebrations with families.

Uncomfortable conversations improve relationships

Throughout the school year, you must have uncomfortable conversations with parents. You need to go in every school year, building relationships, so when it’s time to have difficult discussions, the foundation is laid, and trust is there. You should have several interactions with parents before difficult talks. When you have more extensive situations with students, calling parents over emailing them is essential. Emailing is a great communication tool, but sometimes it’s not the best choice for reaching out to parents.

communicating weekly

It’s essential to send a weekly email consistently. I include a recap paragraph about the week before, important dates, specials/pathway schedules, and school/classroom announcements. This is my version of a weekly newsletter. I post this information on our online platform and send home a paper copy. I want to know as a teacher that I have reached and considered all the home and family situations in my classroom. That means I must put forth the extra time and effort to communicate with families in multiple forms.

closing thoughts on Relationships

All these parent communications help build trust between the “team.” When difficult or uncomfortable conversations have to happen, there is trust and a foundation for productive interaction. Allow focus on the relationship!

Check out this amazing motivational tear-off flyers for your classroom to help build community in your classroom.

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