Communication in education is one of the most important factors in a student’s progress and development. Specifically the following relationships are key: Student-teacher, student-parent AND parent-teacher. Be sure to define what the communication will look like, identify goals and decide who is responsible for initiating. Much depends on the student’s grade level and specific needs, of course. Regardless, you may find it helpful to incorporate some of the following suggestions to increase ease of communication and boost chances for student success.
- Keep communication clear and concrete. What is the focus? What is the goal/purpose? What specific questions do you have or direction would you like?
- Write out a plan (before, during and after any conversations)
- If-then’s are a great way to establish a clear process (ex: IF there is a question about a grade, THEN parents will _______, student will ______ and teacher will _________)
- Don’t hesitate to set up appointments at times other than the allocated parent-teacher conference days, and encourage students to regularly meet with teachers as well (not just for help, but for ideas, direction and feedback)
- Students often hesitate to approach teachers because they don’t want to bother them, aren’t sure what to say or are nervous; writing out plans and preparing can help a great deal (encourage them to bring a sticky note with or use a basic form to make notes of questions and responses during the meeting)
- Allow students to initiate the discussion about their progress (this takes guidance and direction, but often works well and allows students a chance to identify for themselves what areas they want to focus on and generate ideas for doing so)
When students are included in the communication process, they often feel more engaged, valued and even accountable. Students thrive in environments where the expectations are made clear, they have the opportunity to question, clarify, adjust and plan, and when parents support and facilitate as the students learn to communicate important information about their work, progress and needs. Learning strategies for communicating and developing self advocacy skills at a young age are essential, as they will need these skills on an ongoing basis both in and out of school throughout life. As a general rule, clear communication serves as a cornerstone and is fundamental to student success.
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