Welcome to our latest guest blogger Bex! She shares with us her methods of parent communication. How do you keep in touch with parents?
Hi everyone, it's Bex from Reading and Writing Redhead. Thanks so much to Rachel of Minds in Bloom for having me guest post. What a treat!
Parent communication is always a hot topic and I have a few thoughts and ideas that may help you to communicate more effectively with parents this year.
When I first started teaching in the late 1990's the methods of parent communication were phone calls, handwritten notes stuck inside children's backpacks, or talking in person at a conference. It felt challenging to keep everyone in the loop, especially when sometimes those notes didn't make it all the way home. I still remember when a lady who lived next to the school dropped off a sealed envelope that had blown into her yard. She knew it was from me because I always labeled the envelopes: To Mr. and Mrs. _____, from Ms. Mawn". It sure made for an interesting phone call when I told the boy's mother why I had written the note in the first place and what happened to the note after he left school.
Now there seem to be countless options for communicating with parents and I only write a handwritten note when I absolutely have to. At the beginning of the school year I send out a notice asking parents if they would like to be on my e-mail list or if paper notes are their preferred method of communication. Most of the families in my school district have a computer at home or access to e-mail on their phone, so only once in the last three years did someone tell me they prefer paper notes.
My district uses gmail and it is easy to set up a group so you can easily e-mail all of the parents at once. When I first began teaching, I would call all the parents at the beginning of the year with a positive comment about their child. It is much less time consuming now to email these positives at the beginning of the year. I always feel it gets things off to a great start when your first communication with parents is not negative.
Throughout the year I send e-mails to the whole group. I try to have a somewhat regular e-mail newsletter go home with updates about curriculum and anything coming up that they might need to know, like pajama day or a school concert. I just use the email field to type up to the newsletter, check for spelling errors and then send it. I was thinking that this year I could insert some images and change text colors to make it more appealing or even create the newsletter on power point (with more clip arts, fonts, colors, and styles) and attach it to an e-mail to emphasize different parts of the email. It would be more attention-grabbing then what I was doing.
I also occasionally send home a paper copy of an e-mail. For example, if it is about a field trip, I will send home a paper notice and an email on the same day when I send home the permission slip. It something is very important, I like to cover my bases to ensure it gets seen.
For all e-mails and notices, I double check to make sure I am using clear language that will not confuse anyone. As educators, we easily use acronyms like ELL and NCLB and words like differentiate and norms, but not all parents will know those right off the top of their head. My time and effort will be wasted if I end up sending something out that is misunderstood or ignored because it is hard to understand.
In general I try to keep things brief and objective with my notices and e-mails. If I am discussing a problem and have to give some information that would be perceived as negative I set up a parent teacher conference. It is less likely somone will misunderstand your meaning and intention when you are speaking in person, isn't it? However, we all have had the experience of dealing with e-mails that were misinterpreted.
I know many of you have begun blogs and use them to keep parents updated and informed. I haven't done this personally but I have seem blogs with event calendars, common core standards, student work (printed and videoed) and updates from the teacher. Do you use a blog to communicate with parents? What advice would you have to those who would like to give it a try?
Finally, I have an end of the day routine that helps my students communicate with their parents about what is happening in class. We have all heard a parent say, "I ask my daughter what she did today and she says 'nothing'". Well, I created a little paper called This is my Week and each day before dismissal my students write a sentence (or later in the year, sentences) about what they did and how their day went. On Friday, these This is my Week papers go home and give parents a little update for each day. They also might be jumping off points for families to discuss what the week was like. Here is what one looks like and if you'd like to try it yourself, click on it and you can grab it free.
|Grab Your Freebie Here.|
Thanks again to Rachel for having me guest post here at Minds in Bloom! I am delighted! feel free to comment and let us know what works for you when communicating with parents!
About the Blogger
I am a second grade teacher and reading specialist, living in New England with my large but sweet St. Bernard. I have been blogging at Reading and Writing Redhead since 2012 and have been sharing my teacher-made resources online as well. I am so delighted to have become part of such a wonderful, supportive, intelligent and creative online community,