ChorTeach is ACDA’s quarterly online publication, designed for those who work with singers of all levels. Every ChorTeach issue includes a section called “Ask a Conductor,” which is a reader-generated Q&A format where readers submit questions related to teaching, conducting, rehearsing with, or singing with K-12 students. Several educators who either currently work in K-12 or who have past experience in K-12 will answer the question. The summer issue of ChorTeach addresses the following question: What are some of your best practices for communicating with parents and caregivers, specifically when it comes to conflict resolution and expectations? A sample of the answers are below. You can submit questions by following the QR code linked in the article at acda.org/chorteach (choose the Winter 2023 issue).
Libby Montiel Gopal: Communicating with parents and caregivers is important. It is paramount to maintain healthy, clear lines of communication, especially when handling a conflict or establishing expectations. Here is a simple list of procedures I have followed during my twenty years of being an educator in order to minimize confusion and set clear expectations:
• Write a choir handbook that contains an overview of the course, attendance policies, grading policies, uniform expectations, rituals, routines, and classroom procedures. Make sure that this handbook is accessible to your school community by creating it in the most common languages that are spoken in your school district.
• Have the parents/guardians and students sign a contract acknowledging the expectations for being a part of your ensemble or course.
• Reach out to the parents (by phone, email, or informal gathering) during the first two weeks of school to establish communication.
Reginal Wright: In the midst of maintaining a successful choral program, several moving targets must be managed. These can include: administrative responsibilities, student social emotional issues, finances, community partnerships, program branding, and marketing.
While navigating this ever-changing landscape, wisdom dictates that we add conflict with parents and enforcing program expectations to this list. As a 20+-year teacher I have experienced a multitude of scenarios that create conflicts that must be remedied. Most of these conflicts were easily preventable with some form of communication from myself. The most valuable gift that you can give yourself is the gift of planning and communication. Parents and students deserve to have a full perspective of the expectations of participation in the choral program. This allows for a better delivery as these crucial conversations occur. I employ a few strategies to establish solid expectations and communication for all students and parents.
It goes without saying that the syllabus/handbook provides the most fundamental base on which to establish for expectations. We provide a handbook online that covers all of our expectations. This includes our calendar, classroom procedures, grading scales and percentages, a listing of all choirs, uniform contract and fees, expectations and consequences along with a signature page that ALL students and parents must return as proof of receipt. The link to an online version of the handbook is also located on the choir’s website.
Read or download ChorTeach online at acda.org/publications/chorteach or by clicking here. You must be an ACDA member and logged into the website with your username and password.
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