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Building Positive Relationships With Families

An Interview with Doug Edwards

Economic, educational, and other gaps between teachers and parents can sometimes make it challenging to build true partnerships. In this video, fatherhood expert Doug Edwards from Real Dads Forever discusses some strategies teachers can use to bridge those gaps and build stronger relationships with families.

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  • Transcript for Building Positive Relationships With Families

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    Download a transcript of this video in .pdf format in English or Spanish.

    Doug Edwards, Director, Real Dads Forever:always think of relationships like a spider web. There’s got to be, like, hundreds of them to make that thing strong, and everyone you can do makes the relationship better. So, if a teacher can go in with some kind of positive information about what the child is doing, that’s a great way to connect. And then to be able to ask the parent about, “What are some of the other things that this child likes or likes to do?” or, “How can we connect with them better?”

    There are what I call gaps, so there’s usually, like, an academic gap between a parent and a teacher very often. There might be a social gap, just in terms of their social circles. There might be an economic gap. There might be a racial gap, a gender gap. What do you have to do to bridge these gaps and level the playing field and make those connections? And be aware of the fact that a parent might think of themselves as, like, down here, and teacher might think of themselves as up here. How can you bring those two things together?

    It’s costly, in terms of time for the teacher, in terms of their own vulnerability to be able to share something about themselves. A lot of times it’s like, “Well, let’s find something out about the parent.” Well, how about the teacher telling them something about themselves that can make that kind of connection? I always tell them, “When you’re going, don’t go in with anything. Leave your clipboard; leave your computer; leave your papers. Just chat and develop a relationship.” And that kind of breaks the ice. And it’s through conversation; it’s through chatting; it’s through humor; it’s through stories. All of those little things are like those little strands of that spider web that makes it strong.

    © 2020 Center for Early Childhood Education at Eastern Connecticut State University
    May be reprinted for educational purposes.

  • Producer: Teresa Surprenant
    Editor and Videographer: Sean Leser
    Executive Producer: Julia DeLapp

    The Center wishes to thank the following Connecticut centers and families who made this video possible:

    • Child and Family Development Resource Center, Willimantic
    • Cook Hill Integrated Preschool, Wallingford
    • EASTCONN Birth to Three Program, Hampton
    • Family Centered Services of Connecticut, New Haven
    • The Martone Family
    • Nurturing Families Network at Day Kimball Healthcare, Putnam
    • Women's League Child Development Center, Hartford