Last week, my two kids went back to school like the rest of us. I watched their eager, anxious faces turn toward the bus as it rolled to a stop and saw their backpacks bounce up the bus stairs. I was filled with hope and excitement for them. I was also a little nervous. Even after 19 years as a teacher and so many back-to-schools, the nerves still kick in.
Sending children off to school requires an incredible amount of trust. We trust doctors with our health, airline pilots with our long-distance travel, and other drivers on the road to stay in their lane. We trust teachers to keep our kids safe and ignite curiosity.
But how do perfect strangers earn those varying degrees of trust from one another?
Specifically, how do teachers earn the trust of parents? How do we reinforce that trust?
Phone Calls – Starting the year off can be nerve-wracking for children, parents, and teachers. After the first weeks of school, we call each family to discuss their child’s transition. We answer questions ranging from field trips to recess to snacks to whether students are making friends and focusing on learning.
Open Doors – We welcome parents into our rooms in the mornings before school starts. It is an opportunity for them to explore the space, look at student work, and to see the faces of everyone involved in their child’s life.
Class Blog Posts/Tweets – Parents want to know what is happening in school. We make it a habit to capture and share moments on our grade level Twitter page. We also encourage students to write reflections of events and classes that are then shared on the blog. We encourage parents to provide their feedback through comments or tweets.
Teacher Blog Posts/Tweets – Building trust requires an understanding. We take the time to share our professional thinking through blog posts and tweets. We provide a snapshot into our pedagogy and make our philosophy of teaching as transparent as possible. We begin early in the year by simply sharing our summer reading.
Personalization – Parents want what is best for their child. They send their children to school not only to learn the “3Rs” but to also be energized by the world around them. Helping students find their passion and building the curriculum around individuals needs and interests helps connect teachers and parents.
Being Present – We are visible and approachable at morning drop off, dismissal, and at school-wide events. While our teaching and home lives are busy, taking a moment to watch an inning of baseball or to stand in the entranceway before a performance reaffirms our role in the lives of our students.
There are many other opportunities to build trust. What are your suggestions?