How teachers can build and maintain a good relationship with the parents
It is very easy as a teacher to make assumptions about what you consider to be important in teaching a pupil but without clarifying them with the parent. It can help hugely to be aware of these assumptions, so you can begin effectively managing your expectations at the start of the relationship with the parent. Here are some questions you could ask yourself to start clarifying your priorities as a teacher and what your teaching philosophy is.
What is your teaching philosophy?
Are you a teacher who feels it’s a priority to serve the pupil? Are you a teacher who knows what is right for the pupil and strictly adheres to this? Or do you believe in serving the individual to the extent that you don’t always agree with these? Or is it a mix of all of them? There’s no right or wrong answer, but you should be aware of your opinion on these questions.
What are your basic working parameters?
What is your policy around practice, exams, improvising, the child’s expectations of lessons?
What role do you expect the parent to play? Do you expect them to practise with the child every day? Are you happy for them to sit in the lesson or would you prefer them not to sit in the lesson? Are you happy for them to be involved in the details of the lessons, such as choosing repertoire or deciding when the pupil takes an exam? Or would you prefer them to be hands off? How do your answers to these questions change when teaching older students who are more independent?
What are your boundaries for a pupil?
Do you believe, for example, that you should not discuss the pupil with the parent without the pupil’s permission? If so, then the parent needs to be clear about this.
What do you feel about discussing a pupil’s progress and welfare?
If you feel this can’t take place during the lesson because of time and confidentiality, then do you want that extra time to be chargeable or are you happy to give this time free? Extra time talking on the phone to a parent about a pupil can be exhausting and draining for the teacher so this is worth bearing in mind.
Clarifying and managing expectations can make a huge difference to a teacher-parent relationship and that has a positive knock-on effect on the child’s learning experience. Issues will happen throughout the pupils’ learning journey with you, so they will need to be managed. By asking the questions and keeping the communication channels open you give your relationship with them the best possible chance.