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Content: Plan Ahead

 

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                       Para Communication Boundaries…

 

Planning for Communication with Parents

Although there are often policies that make it clear that communicating with parents is the responsibility of teachers and administrators, not paraprofessionals, parents will often communicate with paraprofessionals.  It is difficult to prevent this from happening. Talking occurs on the fly or the spur of the moment. So, if you are a paraprofessional it is likely you talk with parents.

We’ve already discussed that as an educator you are part of a team (even if the team is just you and your teacher), and you role is to reinforce what the teacher is presenting in their lessons. So, when it comes to communication , it is important to think of your role as helping or reinforcing what the teacher would like to share with parents. 

It is important to settle on a plan between you and your mentor educator when it comes to the plan for communication.  If you haven’t already done this, it might be a good idea to pause and think this through as a team.  

The plan below can help you have this kind of team conversation around communication structures. 

The Plan:
Improving Communication with Parents and Family Members

1. TAKE NOTE and sketch out some important questions. Then you’ll really be ready for a discussion. Here are some common questions: 

  • What kinds of things are we already doing? 
  • What kinds of things can we do in addition to what we are already doing? 
  • What roles might I play in this effort? 
  • Here’s what my experience talking with parents is like. What suggestions do you have for me? 
  • Does the district have a policy for paraprofessionals’ communication with parents? Can we talk about it? Can we offer suggestions to improve it? 

2. RAISE THE QUESTION. You can do this in many ways.

  • Indirectly—for instance: “Mrs. Ahmed asked me about Jamil’s homework, and I didn’t know what to say. This comes up a lot, actually. Do you have any ideas?” 
  • Casually—for instance: “What can I do to help us communicate better with parents?” You might add that you’ve been looking into the issue and are wondering. You can use this unit’s Links for More Information to actually look into the issue! 
  • Formal approach: “I’m concerned about how we communicate with parents and what I can do to help. Can we schedule a time to talk about this?”

3. IDENTIFY ONE CONCRETE STEP  to take as a result of the conversation or meeting. Even if it is just more discussion. If nothing happens, don’t give up.

Delineate Boundaries on:
TIME, WORK, ROLE, and COMMUNICATION

From the beginning of the year, set your boundaries up: time, work, role, and communication.
  • BE CLEAR – on things like when you will be in certain settings, what you will do during certain increments of time, who’s job is it to do what task, and how will you communicate.
  • Reaffirm as needed by coming together regularly and as issues or questions come up. 
  • Be consistent and hold tight to the boundaries
  • Be proactive and communicate ahead of time (don’t wait until it gets messy)
  • Use positive language but clear and firm in what you can and can’t do
 

Some things to think about around Parent Communication… 

  • Do not “Friend” Parents;
  • Draw the line if things are getting murky or someone’s overstepping;
  • Save it instead of saying it…  

Module: Communication and Collaboration

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