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Talking to parents for all the right reasons

It’s your third lesson of the day and it seems that the school bell is running late again. A quick glance at your watch confirms it and you suddenly become aware of how stuffy the room has become. It’s no surprise that this Year 8 class has become a little restless.

As you wrap up your plenary, you notice something wrong (using that sixth sense that you acquired at some point during your NQT year). Sam is on the third row and you’ve caught him sticking chewing gum to the bottom of the chair.

“Sam, could I see you at the end of the lesson, please?”

The bell finally rings and Sam walks over to your desk. With a shrug of exasperation, he shouts at you and uses language that you’d rather he didn’t. You then utter those fateful words…

“I’m sorry, Sam. I’m going to have to discuss this with your parents.”

When do teachers talk to parents?

More often than not, interaction with parents starts as a reaction. With Sam and his chewing gum, it was a negative reaction – poor behaviour caused the contact. On better days, it’s a more positive experience – good behaviour postcards, letters about improved academic performance or a call to discuss an opportunity.

These reactions add up to one thing – infrequent contact.

If we only contact parents when something prompts it (or when report-writing season demands it), then it’s hard to build a relationship. If a phone call or letter home is always bad news, then it’s no surprise that some parents end up dreading contact from you. Would you be delighted to receive a weekly call telling you about a problem that you need to resolve?

When should teachers talk to parents?

So, how can we turn the situation on its head? How can we make it so that parents are delighted when we get in touch?

To cure the symptom, you need to fix the underlying cause. Communication needs to stop being a reaction. We need to be in touch with parents on a regular and predictable basis.

If a parent is accustomed to a regular bit of good news from the school, then that goes a long way to insulating their feelings for the times where you have to be the bearer of bad news.

Of course, teachers aren’t exactly over-burdened with spare time. If parents are to receive more frequent contact, then it needs to be time-efficient and easy to do.

Put It On The App

At Piota, we’ve developed a solution. Every day, we help teachers to reach more parents, more often but taking less time.

The solution is so simple that we named our company after it – Put It On The App, or Piota for short.

With just a couple of clicks, teachers can share good news stories about your school and they go straight to parents’ smartphones. In other words, regular good news stories can be sent to the device that parents always have with them. Complete with notifications, text, images, PDFs and links to videos of further information.

Our efficient system means that you can have your very own, completely bespoke school app ready for launch in just two weeks. That’s just two weeks to wait until you can dramatically improve parental engagement in your school.

Or, put another way, that’s just two weeks until Sam’s parents get some good news.

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