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Every Teacher's Guide to Working With Parents

Every Teacher's Guide to Working With Parents

  • Gwen L. Rudney - University of Minnesota-Morris, Coordinator of Elementary Education

June 2005 | 128 pages | Corwin

Transform teacher-parent relationships into a strategy for children's success!

While most parents strive to support their children with the best parenting practices, both teachers and parents often find themselves struggling to reconcile conflicts that can result in hostility, defensiveness, and communication breakdowns. In addition, negative public constructions of parents perpetuate this dilemma, particularly for those parents who are already marginalized through poverty or language barriers.

Working from research in three key areas-parent development and skills, social and historical family influences, and parent-school relationships-educator (and parent) Gwen L. Rudney offers teachers:

  • Useful interpretations of parent beliefs and actions
  • Compelling insight into what parents expect from teachers
  • Key ideas that characterize the struggles that parents face while raising children
  • Practical strategies designed to lead to community, trust-building, collaboration, gratitude, and friendship with parents

Straightforward chapters offer teachers everything from theory to commonsense strategies for working with parents to improve life and learning for all children.

About the Author
1. Understanding the Lives of Parents: Why Do They Do Those Things They Do?
Scenario: "If the Parents Would Just..."

Demands and Decisions

What Experts Have to Say

Quick Tips on Important Issues

Popular Literature

A Theoretical Look at Parenting Styles

So, What's the Problem?

What's a Parent to Do?

Avoid Extremes

Focus on the Target Goals of Parenting

Try Hard...and Keep Trying

The Kids Have a Role

Children Grow and Change

Parents Change and Develop Too

Helping Parents Who Have Special Struggles

Troubled Parents

Parents With Troubled Kids

Parents Love Their Kids

Additional Resources


Web Sites

2. Collaborating With Parents: How Can Teachers Build Relationships That Work?
Scenario: "Is It Going to Matter?"

Understanding Complementary Spheres of Knowledge and Influence

What Do Teachers Mean When They Say They Want Support?

What Do Parents Want From Teachers?

What Qualities in a Teacher Are Most Important to Parents?

What Positive and Negative Experiences With Teachers Do Parents Remember?

What Do Parents Do When a Child Dislikes the Teacher?

What Do Parents Do When They Disagree With the Teacher? a Personal Way

Working With Parents: Key Strategies for Teachers

Greet Parents With Respect and Interest in Their Children

Solicit and Utilize Parent Questions, Advice, and Comments

Think About Homework

Develop "We-ness"

Be Prepared With Interesting, Meaningful Information

Be Honest...and Patient

Be a Personal Way

Ask Not What the Parents Can Do for You but What You Can Do for the Parents

Coping With Difficult Parents...or Parents With Difficulties

Sometimes It's a Difficult Situation

Sometimes It's the Parent

Sometimes It's the Student

And Sometimes It's the Teacher


Additional Resources


Web Sites

3. Advocating for Parents: What Are Powerful Messages We Can Share?
Scenario: "I Didn't Know How to Say It"

Message One: All of Us Have Parents...and Most of Us Become Them

The Problem With Ethnocentrism: Like Me/Not Like Me Thinking

The Problem With Assumptions

A Gentle Reminder

Message Two: Many Powerful Factors Create Misconceptions About Parenting

Remembering the Past

Media Influences

Habits of Mind

The Real Deal

Message Three: Most Parents Are Good Enough

Children's Health and Happiness

Time and Attention

Encouraging Learning

When There Are Problems

Message Four: Successful Families Come in Different Shapes and Sizes

Moms and Dads

Single Parents


What the Children Want

Message Five: It Really Does Take a Village to Raise a Child

Members of the Village

What the Village Can Do

Message Six: Schools That Advocate for Families Reap Multiple Rewards

Attitude and Atmosphere

Buildings and Bridges

Communication, Collaboration, and Competence

Parting Words

Additional Resources


Web Sites


“Gives educators strategies to help involve, influence, and become partners with parents.  This book will be an asset to all teachers, especially beginning teachers in training, new teachers, and teachers who mentor other teachers. All teachers can be reminded of the important role we play in a family’s life.”  

Vickie Catalina, Teacher
Stephens Elementary/Middle School, Detroit, MI

“Teachers can easily use the strategies to be more effective communicators.  Most importantly, the entire book is discussing a problem that all teachers have. .. We all have unique circumstances, but we all want the best for the students.  How we do this is creating an effective plan that works for each individual child.  This book’s strategies make it seem possible.”  

Cami Sullivan
Middle School Gifted Language Arts Teacher, Smokey Road Middle School, Newnan, GA

“As I was reading it, I found things I could use in my next parent conference…The tone and style of the book really appealed to me.  It was a fast read because it was so practical and useful.  I wanted to keep reading to see what good information would come next."   

Kathryn McCormick
Teacher, Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools, Gahanna, OH

“A practical and valuable tool to teachers and parents."

Monica Haeussler
Gifted Program Instructor, Central Bucks School District, Warringtown, PA

“I will be recommending this book to my principal for staff in-service training…. I think all teachers should read this as a great refresher on working with parents.  I highlighted pieces of information on almost every page."

Tony Vincent
Teacher, Millard Public Schools, Omaha, NE

“Parent user–friendly...not overloaded with professional jargon.”  

Karen Walker
Speech Language Pathologist, West Carrollton City Schools, West Carrollton, OH
Key features
  • A research-based guide to successful teacher-parent collaborations
  • Straightforward chapters combine theory, practice, case studies, workshop exercises, common sense strategies, and reminders for teachers working with parents in collaborative partnerships.
  • Ideal for parent-teacher organizations and for parent advocacy groups.
  • By educator (and parent) Gwen L. Rudney, author of Maximum Mentoring.   

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