This blog post is part of our Guide to Family Partnerships, based on the stories we collected while assembling our 2016–2017 Impact Report.

Research on positive/negative interactions reveals that educators who lead with the positive and continually send encouraging messages—rather than first reaching out about a problem or only initiating contact when something is wrong—have the best chance at building strong relationships.

When schools only reach out to discuss problems, it’s easy for parents and students to feel frustrated, powerless, and disengaged; positive messages provide a welcome bright spot that helps build trust and engagement in schools.

Educator perspectives on how Kinvolved helps

Mr. K. recalls that one student’s mother was surprised to receive through KiNVO a text from him that commended her student’s effort: “She told me that, in the past, when she received a phone call from class, it was never positive.”

For Ms. C., a Community Schools Director in Brooklyn, her team instructs teachers to be “very strategic around what we’re communicating with parents,” which is easy to track and evaluate through KiNVO’s reporting tools. She explains: “There is always something positive you can share with a parent. Send as many positive messages upfront as you can. When you do have to send a negative message, parents and students will better receive it because they’re used to you saying something kind and genuine—they understand you’re communicating because you need their support addressing an issue.”

Putting it into practice

  • Apply the “Magic Relationship Ratio”—initiating five positive interactions for every negative interaction—to build and sustain a strong relationship.
    • KiNVO pro tip:Use KiNVO’s Parent Communication report to compare how many Positive versus Needs Improvement messages you send—grade-level and content teams can set specific communications goals and check their progress each week.
  • Be conscious about the tone and timing of your messages, and keep your content simple and pleasant. Remember that texts can be easily misinterpreted, so if you have to discuss a sensitive matter, use text messages to coordinate a phone call at a mutually convenient time.
    • KiNVO pro tip: Start and end on a positive note, sandwiches in the middle any issues that need to be addressed.
  • Designate time periods where you send only positive messages. This helps establish an encouraging environment, build family and student buy-in, and create a two-way communications channel for collaborating and problem-solving.
    • KiNVO Pro-tip: Schedule positive-only periods at the beginning of the year and after long breaks.

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