Saturday, October 24, 2015

Impact of Positive Communication

Post by Rachel Cuppy & Beth Thompson: Rachel and Beth both teach special education at Bettendorf High School. You can follow them on Twitter @rcuppy1 @betheku

What is the measure of impact when reaching out to a struggling student’s parent?  Think about it…. Parents get inundated with information just like their kids do.  How often do you contact parents with a positive message revolving around their child?  Parents who have struggling students are all too often struggling themselves.    So often times they see the school’s phone number or a staff’s email address and cringe before they answer or open their email.  Put yourself in their shoes… Would you struggle with having meaningful interactions with teachers when the only messages about your child you receive focus on negative aspects of behavior or lack of academic progress they display? Research indicates when a positive relationship is established between home and school students find greater success in the academic setting (Gelfer, 2006; Ramirez, 2009).

The most common type of communication between teachers and parents has been one-way communication (Thompson, 2008).  Common forms of one-way communication include newsletters, journals, websites, praise notes, and emails. Thompson (2008) researched emails that teachers sent home and concluded that a majority of them were academic in nature.  Emails sent from school were most commonly used to inform parents and guardians of academic progress, missing work, and attendance (Stafford, 1987).  Even though email was limited by being emotionless in nature, teachers and parents still utilized it regularly due to the ease of sending and receiving messages instantly while not consuming an abundance of time (Ramirez, 2001).  The majority of emails sent by teachers do not receive a reply from parents (Jensen, 2007).

Parents should be contacted and encouraged to praise their students at home for positive academic achievements and behaviors displayed with the academic setting.  By encouraging parents to deliver praise too, the parents gain the ability to understand and reinforce behaviors and skills that are desirable at home and school.  Positive communications from teachers to parents should include information regarding successes both behaviorally and academic that students have experienced in school.  Ramirez (2001) suggested that students placed an increased value on their education when their parents were involved in the process. 

In today’s technology infused society delivering positive messages to parents regarding their child is more convenient than ever. Multiple avenues exist to streamline the communication process.  Teachers can use apps on their cell phones to send positive pictures and short statements to parents in order for them to see or hear about success their child has found at school.  Positive phone calls home can be a wonderful surprise for both parents and students.  The positive message or phone call could set the stage for meaningful conversation between parents and their child.

In addition to using technology to contact parents, never underestimate the power of a hand written note sent home via the postal service.  Imagine going to the mailbox expecting more bills or junk mail and instead finding a notecard from the school celebrating something your child did well.  The note will send a clear message to parents that their child is working with someone who values and cares about them.

When students and their parents feel positive connections with the school and teachers they are working with good things happen.  Student attendance is increased; the number of missing assignments is decreased.  These changes can have a ripple effect on students helping them develop more confidence at home and school and ultimately helping them find success as they transition into the next phase of their education or lives.

Last spring we conducted an action research project at the elementary and high school levels testing the theory of positive communications from teachers to parents would have a significant impact on the desired behaviors of students in the academic setting.  The data gathered during our research supported our theory and desired behaviors displayed by students were increased at both levels in the academic setting.  If you would like to know more about our research methods or data you can contact us at or .

Gelfer, J.I. (2006). Teacher-parent partnerships enhancing communications.
            Childhood Education, 67(3), 164-167.
Jensen, D.A. (2007). Using classroom newsletters as a vehicle for examining
            home-school connections. Teaching Education, 18(3), 167-178.
Ramirez, A.Y. (2009). Survey on teachers’ attitudes regarding parents and parental
            Involvement. The School Community Journal, 9(2), 21-39.
Ramirez, F. (2001). Technology and parental involvement. A Journal of
Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 75(1), 30-31.
Stafford, L. (1987). Parent-teacher communication. Communication Education,
            36(2), 182-187.
Thompson, B (2008). Characteristics of parent-teacher email communication.
            Communication Education, 57(2), 210-223

1 comment:

  1. Agree...spread positivity...whenever possible...not negativity!!