Many teachers feel that parents are the enemy. That they somehow are at odds. True, many parents take a more active roles in their child's school than teachers would like. It might seem like a fine line, but it's not.
You want parents as friends, not enemies.
In fact, even as polls show a lack of support for public education overall, parents feel better about the school their child attends. The more you make friendly overtures, the better.
Teachers need a little give and take if they want to have less interference in the classroom. That's what teachers fear most. That parents will be overly involved. That's why you need to become on friendly terms. They will know what lines not cross if you do things in a subtle, friendly manner.
How to do this? More explanations as to why you are doing something. Be proactive. Set a calendar for class themes, current subjects, and reasons for doing them.
If you can't explain why you are making the class do a 10 page report on dandelions, then don't be surprised if a parent complains.
Children forget and are not good at explaining who, what, where, why, and when about school. Set up an email list or send home fliers. Make phone calls.
Teachers are always trying to get parents involved. Parents can be the best partner a teacher has. From help with student discipline, to class activities. Many teachers just ask with no particular way in mind. With email, it is very easy to keep in touch and make contacts.
Don't overlook the value of parents. Below are a few suggestions for you to use in trying to get parents involved.
Ask parents to volunteer to help keep the school grounds clean by picking up trash or gardening. Painting and other upkeep could also be included.
Many of your parents will have interesting jobs.
Get parents to come to your classroom and give a talk to your students about what there job is.
Plan a day in your classroom that is a special day. Have parents come in and contribute. A special day is like Earth Day, Valentine's Day, etc. Not necessarily a party, but a day where all activities have a theme.
The obvious. Get them to join or start a PTA.
Encourage them to come to back to school night.
Is the end of a term? Is it the end of the school year? Is it the last day before going off track? Invite parents in to your classroom to help put everything away and then invite them back to decorate for the return.
Send out invitations to all school events--concerts, plays, even assemblies.
Do a student recognition day. It does not have to be very long. Maybe one hour. Get parents to come to your class and have a mini-assembly just for your students. Each student gets some award and certificate. Simple things like being helpful, on time, courteous, etc. They do not need to be academic related.
Once a month have after school refreshments, cookies and punch, and get parents to stop by and talk.
Most parents are willing to help teachers and show up to school. But many need prodding as well. With just a little creativity, you can get parents involved.
Remember, the trick is to get parents to be interested in their child and his or her schoolwork.
The more they are involved and the more the students know they are involved, the better you classroom discipline will be!