A Strategy For Parent Teacher Communication That Works

A Strategy For Parent Teacher Communication That Works


I was reading in our local paper this article:

Survey suggests communication gaps between parents, local school board


This question caught my eye:

The school lets me know when my child is doing something well at school:

  • Parents with students in elementary school: 43 per cent agree
  • Parents with students in high school: 22 per cent agree

This to me is a missed opportunity of parent teacher communication.

Now, I’m not a phone person. I avoid the phone as much as I can. I’d rather text, email, or do it in person.

But, I do have a teaching strategy that works for me. And a solution to turning around these survey results.

The Sunshine Call

We all like to be praised. We all like to be told something positive. There is nothing more motivating for a student than receiving a positive “sunshine” call from their teacher.

Praise from a teacher to a parent of a challenging student becomes very powerful when the first call the parent receives is a positive one. Place yourself in the shoes of this parent who constantly gets phone calls of misbehavior. Be the one to change their thought of the teacher phone call. If your first call is a positive one, you will have them on your side when you need them later for any student misbehavior.

The ideal time to make this “sunshine” call is on the first day of school, first day of a new school term, or after a holiday. The main goal is to catch a student doing something positive.

Pick 3-5 students to observe for your telephone call. When the students are “caught” doing something positive, jot it down on the Sunshine Observation Form. You can download it here along with The Sunshine Call What To Say Script and Resources:

Download The Sunshine Call What To Say Script and Resources (No registration required)

Print a Sunshine Observation Form for each student. When you’ve observed something positive, file it in your Student Records binder with all the other information you have on the student.

You may or may not want to tell the students that you are observing them. One of the advantages I find not telling the student, especially a high needs student, is the element of surprise. Both the parent and the student are politely surprised by the positive phone call.

Another thing you may or may not want to do is have the student beside you when you call. This way the student knows what was said to the parent. This reinforces the trust between you and the student.

As soon as you have time, call the parent. Take your Student Records binder with you.

Make notes while speaking on the Parent Contact Telephone Log. Have a class list at the beginning of the binder so you know who you have called and who still needs to be called.

Imagine the kind of reaction you’ll get from a parent who gets a number of sunshine calls from you those first days and weeks of school. This is especially so if in the past she’s received nothing but bad news about the child.

Sunshine calls are a great way of building rapport early in the year with parents and with your high needs students. Building rapport early encourages students to work with you even when things aren’t going well. Moreover, you likely will get much needed support from parents when you need it. If you can get a parent on your side early, behavior problems are easier to solve. (One thing I’ve learned is to make the first sunshine calls to parents of students who may not have had good relations with the school. This early positive outreach will make a difference in your future interactions with difficult parents and students.)

Let me know in the comments how the strategy worked out for you.

Until next time,

Talk to each other, support each other, take care of each other.



Download The Sunshine Call What To Say Script and Resources (no registration required)




Click here to learn a little known teaching strategy that works with your angriest, most disrespectful student to ever enter your classroom.



How To Make A Difference: Inspiring Students To Do Their Best is a 222 page resource with ideas and strategies on how to overcome obstacles, how to motivate your class and how to get yourself motivated when nothing seems to help.

It also comes with a bonus workbook of 100 pages of activities, strategies and incentives to keep you and your class engaged all year long AND a 2.5 hours on-demand video.

Click here for my eBook How To Make A Difference for more tips and strategies to inspire your students to do their best.


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