As a school librarian, my contact with parents is not as frequent as a classroom teacher’s. In the past, parents only heard from me if their child had an overdue book or when it was book fair time. Since starting at my current school one year ago, I have consciously tried to change that.
Parents have a lot to juggle. I should know; I include myself in this group. Low on the list of things to remember for parents may be their child’s weekly “library day.” Add to that my school’s practice of labeling our resource days as Days 1-5. (We started this so classes don’t miss so much Art, Music, STEAM, PE or Library due to days off. If we miss a day of school, we pick up where we left off.) To help everyone remember, I have started sending a message on Class Dojo to all our subscribers. On a Google slide, I have listed all the library classes for the next day along with a humorous Bitmoji of me holding books. It is very easy for me to send out the night before, and I have received positive feedback from our community
Instead of giving parents bad news (a lost or overdue book) or asking for money (book fair time), have you tried reaching out positively? Even a quick note or email goes a long way to show parents we are their partners. Again, using Class Dojo makes it very quick to send an “ I love the way Johnny participated in library class today!” or “Thank you for finding Susie’s book. I appreciate this!” All too often at my school, parents had a negative school experience of teacher communications when they were children, and some may be very reluctant to change that perspective. Chipping away, one email or text at a time, is worth it tenfold.
Another way to interact with parents is being visible as an instructional leader in your school. I am available to sit in on parent-teacher conferences to provide data that may not be available from any other teacher. Without violating the child’s privacy as it pertains to their book selection, I am able to give anecdotal accounts about reading habits, reading enthusiasm, and any behavioral concerns that a child exhibits. Teachers appreciate the backup I provide, and parents are grateful to have a glimpse of their child in a typical day.
I love the idea of going to students’ games on the weekends or watching them in a play, ballet recital, etc. I certainly did my share of that when my kids were little and could go with me. But now I am not always able to go. A quick high-five in the hallway or note given to the child’s teacher also goes a long way. I guarantee news of this will reach home and parents will be impressed that you took the time to remember their child.
Relationships are the cornerstone of everything in school. Building a relationship with parents we don’t see often still matters. Try some of these tips and hopefully, you will reap the benefits I have!
Author: Elizabeth Kyser
H!! I am the lucky librarian at Ettrick Elementary School, located in Chesterfield County, Virginia. I graduated with a degree in History from Allegheny College, received a Master of Education degree from Loyola University in Maryland, and my library certification classes were taken at Longwood University. I was a classroom teacher for fourteen years before I became a school librarian and I am so glad I was. Please feel free to find me on social media. I am energized by sharing ideas with colleagues from around the world!