Friday Two Cents: Rapport With Parents


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This week in a course I was doing the topic of rapport building came up. We were discussing what do you need to do to build rapport. Then I had a few conversations with parents about their children and realized a few things I do to build rapport.

Rapport building with parents is something that is essential when teaching children. Many teachers I have known, see the parents as a hindrance to the education of the children. That basically the teachers know better than the parents of what is good for the children. Lets face it the teachers are educated and trained to help and educate children. That is their job after all. Many have years if not decades of experience to back up what they have to say. However the parents of the children are the parents. They have the last word in what and how they are taught. This is where some of the conflict can occur.

Teachers have to remember that the children are not theirs and the parents are responsible for them. For the longest time when I first started as a teacher I had a difficult time with this idea. Not just because I had the education and a few years experience under my belt but because I began caring for the children as if they where my own. I was reminded many times by others that they are not my kids and not until I came to terms with this idea, did I realized that I was teaching the children in conjunction with the parents.

Therefore I began seeing the parents as partners in the education of the children. This is where the rapport with the parents must come in and is essential. I would make it my goal to build a relationship with the parents to help the child. Not a personal relationship but a professional one with one goal in mind, what is best for the child.

I remember one parent from the after school program I currently work in. This little girl had her first day at school and her first day in the afterschool program. She did not know where to go and the school mixed up where she had to go. The girl did end up with my group, so she was safe but the mother was not happy, not with me but the school. The school called her to find out where she had to go and she was not impressed. When she came in to pick up her daughter she had an angry look about her. I knew about the situation, she was a new parent and she needed some support, so me being mister sociable approached her and I introduced myself. She returned my greeting but it was short, yet I did not leave it there.

I told her I knew about the situation and asked if everything is all cleared up. She was not happy and she told me about her irritation with the office because she wrote down where her daughter would be going a week ago. I reassured her that at least she ended up with us, that she is safe and we now know that this will not happen again. She seemed a little better, then left.

I did not leave it there, the next day I approached her again, just to said ‘Hi’ and tried to engage her in a little small talk. She returned my greetings and some small talk. Every day I would say hello and we began to build a rapport with one another. Three years later she comes up now and says hello to me and starts up conversations.

I built a rapport with the parent with the child’s best interest in mind. There were a few moments when we had to have a serious talk about her daughter but because we had built this rapport she was more receptive to my concerns as well as I was receptive to her concerns. In those situations, we both worked together for the betterment of her daughter. It might have gone badly if I did not take the time to stop and talk to the parent.

Not every parent will be willing to talk to me, as with the previous example the parent was not in any mood to talk. Yet the seeds were planted that first day. I realized that we, as teachers need to work with parents not against them. That in the end we are both working towards the same goal. The betterment and education of their children.  

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