Excerpted from Secrets to Success in the Elementary Classroom
By Valeaira Luppens and Greg Foreman

As we ease into spring for the homestretch of the school year and our focus is challenged by concerts and end of the year activities, staying in touch with parents about their child’s progress becomes increasingly important. One of the most common mistakes beginning teachers make is related to the failure of communicating with their students’ parents. Whether the information about the student is good or bad, parents have a right to know how their students are performing. Good news is easy. Publish successful articles on activities or performances in the school newspaper. Many schools provide “Good News” type postcards that can be sent home to individual students or parents. Take advantage of these! A little praise goes a long way in developing positive relationships. Greet parents cordially when they visit your room and express your enthusiasm about their child. You may even elect to send a quarterly newsletter home with students, which could include upcoming events and/or a brief overview of the curriculum the students are working on in the music classroom.

On the flip side, sometimes a student is not living up to your high standard of expectations. This is often best handled by a telephone call. Identify yourself, then state a positive about the student.

For instance:
Although Shirley is a remarkable singer in our class, she has not been exhibiting self-control during the past three classes. She constantly talks when I am giving instruction to the class. Shirley’s behavior not only prevents her from following directions, but also affects the other children in her immediate vicinity. Shirley is such a bright child; I want her to be an active learner and participator in music. Do you have any suggestions as to how we can work together to address this problem?

The same format can be used for parent/teacher conferences. Sketching out ideas like this can be useful in organizing your thoughts and communicating effectively with parents.

Best wishes to you as you wrap-up the school year, and keep in mind that good communication is an essential part of a successful music program!