Now that you are a few weeks into the school year and have had a chance to get familiar with your students, you should begin to recognize their strengths and weaknesses. You have probably already sent home a note or email about a student that you wanted to improve behaviorally or academically. But, have you notified parents about something their children have done well? Chances are, you will not, unless you have an organized system to encourage people. Encouraging a parent does not require a lot of words or time; it just requires you to take a deliberate action.
Keep the message short and simple. Do not fill the note with unnecessary, trite phrases. Think of this as a postcard message, not a letter. I like the “I am so proud” opening statement that Whitaker & Breaux suggest for communicating positive messages1. For example,
I am proud of ___________ because __________.
It’s a pleasure being able to teach your child.
Consider buying a stack of cheap postcards for this project. Write a two or three sentence message on a postcard, give it to the student, and tell them to deliver it their parents. By doing this, you will encourage both the child and the parents. Encouraging others has a long list of benefits, but as a teacher, it makes you a more effective leader. It will reinforce behaviors that you want students to perpetuate, it will foster a working relationship between you and your parents, and it will help the parents know your heart for their child – this may come in handy if you have to discuss negative issues later in the year.
Start today by organizing a way to do this on a regular basis, because you will never do it if you do not plan and schedule it. Decide how many notes you will send tomorrow, this week, by the end of the quarter, etc. Choose a time of the day when you will be able to write a note and deliver it. Start with the students and parents who need encouragement the most. You know who they are.
1Whitaker, T., & A.B. (2013). Ten-minute inservice: 40 quick training sessions that build teacher effectiveness. Jossey-Bass.