For students who learn or think differently, having a strong support network is critical to success. And that network should include both teachers and parents. Unfortunately, there’s always been a certain amount of difficulty bridging the communication gap between the two groups, but it certainly got worse during the remote learning of the pandemic, leaving already struggling students farther behind.
Education Week posed the question “How can these two groups develop better strategies and avenues for effective communication?” to their Twitter followers, and Michelle Lassiter, an Editorial Research and Expert Relations Associate for the nonprofit Understood, cohosted the discussion and provided her expert insights with the group.
Parents and educators shared what they felt were some of the biggest obstacles. Teachers cited their struggles involving parents in the kids’ learning process, while parents shared their confusion over when they should initiate these conversations and their fear of being judged as a parent if their children weren’t up to the level of their peers.
The group also proposed some solutions. Here are six key tips to facilitate better communication.
- Treat parents as partners in the process. After all, teachers are trying to educate their kids.
- Focus on what the student has been doing well — start with the positive, not a negative.
- Authenticity matters. Be honest and open no matter which side of the table you’re on; that builds trust.
- Learn from each other and find common ground. Then play into your strengths, either a teacher offering their expertise or a parent informing what they know best about their child.
- Be flexible and adapt to meet each student where they are. Not everyone works well in face-to-face situations. If a parent prefers emails, texts, or phone calls, meet them there.
- Share examples from your own life to help each other relate to you as a person, parent, and/or professional.
Readers: Do you have additional ideas? Please let us know in the comments section below.
 Whiteleather, Marina. (November 2, 2021). “6 Ways to Communicate Better with Parents of Students with Learning Differences.” Education Week. Retrieved from https://fs24.formsite.com/edweek/images/4-1-22_EquityInLiteracyEducationSpotlight_Sponsored.pdf.