Easy Public Relations Ideas for Teachers
Middle school is a really interesting place. Most middle schoolers think so, too, but you'd never know that from what they say at home.
The fact is, our students are not our best public relations representatives! A teacher's job would be easier if there was at least some spillover at home of all the excitement we see at school. I believe that teachers should take charge of their own public relations, and this is not a hard thing to do.
Of course, your first big PR opportunity is the day you meet the parents. Your main job is to win over the students, of course, but if you also win over the parents, a true partnership can begin.
Parents are looking for a teacher who is professional (Watch how you dress!), competent (Watch the slang!), and warm (A little humor is good). If you act flustered or disorganized (Where did I put my notes?), the first time their child comes home and says you lost something, the parents will believe it. If you act rigid and can't laugh at yourself, a parent can more easily believe that you are picking on their child. Naturally, the complete and parent-friendly curriculum schedule that you hand out is another big PR opportunity.
Your next chance for great PR is the student's assignment book. Make sure students write their homework assignments and include which book they are to bring home. Even if there is no homework, have the students write one sentence about what the class focused on that day.
If the student actually takes the assignment book home, looking it over is an opportunity for parents to talk about what happened at school and assist the child in getting organized for homework. You might even encourage parents to write comments in the book for you or their child.
Don't forget about the "Hooray" postcards and "Just to say…" phone calls. Make a couple of sets of labels for your classes at the beginning of the year and make sure every label is used at least two times during the year for a postcard with good news. Make a third set of labels for phone calls–once completed, tear off the label to know you've contacted that family just to say hello or offer a good comment about the student. It's exceptional PR for about $40 in postage.
Teach parents how to ask better questions about school. "How was school?" is a PR blocker if ever there was one. Early in the school year, give parents a list of questions that might elicit better responses, like:
"Did anything funny happen at school today?"
"Did you get called on in any classes today?"
"Did you get to do anything today that made you feel great?"
"Did you have a chance to tell the teacher about what you read last night that tied in with what you're studying?"
Another great PR opportunity is attending students' athletic contests, concerts, debates, and plays, and, if you can find it in your heart, some of their special events off campus. Parents also like it when teachers attend parent meetings. Again, it's all about partnership. Conferences, of course, are a special PR opportunity and worth a much more complete discussion than we can have here.
Teachers are doing wonderful things in middle schools. You need to make the time to let your parent constituents know about those things. You will find that your parent relationships are better, and that means you can work together more easily toward what's best for the kids.