A commitment to communication

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Last Thursday, during the Cassville School District's welcome back meeting for teachers and staff members, John Sullivan, R-4 Board president, made a commitment to the employees who serve in the school system. John said that the board planned to improve communication with staff members during the 2012-13 school year. Board members plan to visit the school more often, attend building level meetings and be available to communicate with faculty and staff members. He also said that the board would conduct surveys throughout the year to determine how he and the other members could provide more assistance to R-4 employees.

I commend John and the Cassville School Board for starting the year with a renewed commitment to communication. I believe that communicating with others and listening to concerns is one of the best ways to avoid confrontation and one of the most effective ways to find solutions.

As area students return to school this week, I would like to challenge parents to follow John's lead and make a personal commitment to improved communication this school year. I would also like to encourage parents to not only take time to attend parent-teacher conferences and other meetings with educators, but to prepare for those meetings by thinking about effective ways to communicate.

The following parent-teacher communication tips are provided by the National PTA (Parent Teacher Association):

* Ask your child's teacher about their expectations regarding homework and ways to receive assistance when needed.

* When sending email or written notes to a teacher, avoid criticism, keep notes brief and limit messages to school-related information. If a reply is not received in a few days, follow-up with a phone message and include your phone number and email address. Remember that notes can also be a way of expressing appreciation when things are going well in class.

* Determine when the teacher is available to speak with parents. Ask for times that are convenient for the educator instead of expecting the teacher to be available at your convenience.

* When speaking with an educator, be positive and curious. Open with phrases like, "Can we talk about . . ." or "I'm confused about . . ."

* If a teacher delivers bad news about your child, focus on solutions and work with the educator to develop a healthy plan to help the child.

Remember that parents and teachers are partners in a child's education. Keeping the lines of communication open this school year will help that partnership and area students thrive.

Lindsay Reed