Today I would like to share with you all the ways that I communicate with the parents of students. Adequate communication, I think, is one of the keys to having a successful school year. Let's face it. Happy parents = happy students = happy teacher!
My parent communication motto is ... EVERY WAY POSSIBLE! And, I'm not going to lie, I do it as much to convey information as to cover my boo-tay, if you know what I mean. I cringe if I hear these words uttered ... "She didn't tell me."
At the beginning of every week I send a mass email to all of my students' parents. I include upcoming events, important dates, and an overview of what we are learning that week. This is a copy of the email I sent home on Monday.
My email is like a weekly electronic newsletter, but I don't take the time to fancy it up with columns and clipart. Sometimes things come up during week, so I occassionally send other mass emails too.
Regarding specific students, I try only to email positive notes. I try never to send any comments via email regarding innapropriate student behavior, unless I've tried multiple times to contact the parent by phone and I'm not getting a call back or other form of communication. You just never know if the way the email sounds in your head is how it's going to sound to the parent when he/she reads it. Emails leave room for too much interpretation.
Have you heard of REMIND? It used to be called REMIND 101. The app allows you to send text messages to parents. Parents do not learn your actual cell phone number and they cannot reply to the message. You can text your whole class at once, or select a parent to contact. I keep these pretty generic. Like -
"Tomorrow is Future Friday. Wear a college t-shirt."
"Don't forget to send you reservation for the K.I.S.S. luncheon to school by Friday." (Kids Invite Someone Special - we invite guests to lunch on Grandparent's Day.)
During pack and stack, kiddos color a dot on their calendar to indicate where they were on the clip chart at the end of the school day. Parents initial the dot.
I created these calendars specifically for my class.
My phone call policy is:
If I make a "bad" phone call I also have to make a "good" phone call for someone else. I like to keep things balanced. I don't make that many phone calls home about disruptive behavior (KNOCK ON WOOD), so on occassion I'll make 5 or 6 "Your student is having a super duper week" phone calls just for fun. It just makes a parent's day. I know it would make mine if I received such a phone call :-)
I won't go into much detail here, but all parents of elementary students in my district attend a parent-teacher conference to discuss progress and pick up their student's first report card of the school year. Our district accomodates elementary teachers in this endeavor by giving us two early release days in October when the first grading period ends.
Beyond that parents receive report cards approximately every nine weeks. Parents of students who are not meeting benchmark also receive progress reports during the grading period.
If I think of anything I'm forgetting, I'll update the post later.