By Danny L. Ross, M.Ed., CSC, LPC-S, NCC
Every day, I meet teachers who are stressed and overwhelmed. They desperately want more engaged and supportive parents to be the village our kids urgently need. Every day we see stories and read articles about teachers working extra hours and buying their own supplies, who act as therapists, counselors, friends, and teachers. They want to do their job and teach the next generation of thinkers, creatives, and expressive, but they can't do that without engaged parents. The reality is rough - teachers and parents are overworked, and asking anyone to do more seems like an impossible task. Still, I have some tips to help educators encourage more engagement from parents.
Tell them straight up the truth.
I think the best approach is to talk to the parents honestly and realistically, letting them know the depressing, brutal truth. This kind of straight talk is to the point and hits in an emotional, human way. Allow the parents to understand the complete picture and the outcomes if they remain disengaged. Of course, parents should already be engaged, but sometimes they will say something like, "It isn't my job to teach multiplication; that's what they go to school and have teachers for." The bottom line is that parents need to be involved now more than ever, and they need to know that.
I have a strategy with steps that can be implemented quickly.
As an educator, evaluate your circumstance, list what you need, and think about the needs that are probably the easiest for parents to accomplish. Present parents with a plan that's easy to understand and follow. Once you are honest with your parents and get them on board, you'll be even more successful if you give them a clear and easy game plan. If they have to figure out a plan independently, they may not be as effective as you need them to be or give up entirely out of frustration or confusion.
Educators need engaged parents to help support lessons and structure. More importantly, students need involved parents to create a healthy, motivating, and supportive climate where they can learn, grow, and reach their highest potential.
Danny L. Ross is a certified/school counselor and a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor in Texas with over 20 years of combined experience in teaching, school counseling, social services, and clinical counseling. He has authored five books related to diversity, education, and grief.
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