Parent Communication Ideas for Teachers

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Seven years ago this week I became a mom for the first time.
And it gave me a whole new perspective in the classroom. I think any teacher who has had children will agree. 
Build time into your daily routines to communicate with parents. If you establish a positive relationship with a child’s family by keeping them up to date on his progress and sharing examples of things that have gone well in the classroom, they will be much more receptive to a note addressing a potential issue that has arisen. Parents do not want to only hear from their child’s teacher when something is wrong.
While you can certainly write spontaneous notes home when something awesome happens, positive communication can be organized and systematic.  You just need to develop a system that works well for you.
First, decide which methods of communication are going to be best for you. If you use a daily communication folder then writing a note in there may be best. Emails are also a nice option because you’ll automatically have a copy in your sent mail. 
Plan to write 2-3 notes home per day for positive reasons. It need not be elaborate. Examples:
  • “I can tell Jane has been practicing her math facts at home. Thanks for your continued support.” 
  • “Stephen went out of his way to include a child who was sitting alone today. We’re so proud of him.” 

These are short, sweet, and to the point, but will mean the world to the people on the receiving end. It will communicate that you appreciate their child and recognize the positive choices made. 
If you don’t feel that you have time during the day, an alternative is to write your notes on adhesive mailing labels after school and then stick them into the communication folder in the morning. This method also works well because you can write notes onto the labels throughout the day as they happen or when you reflect on the day in the evening so you don’t need to jog your memory as you check the morning folders.
There are plenty of families who will reach out to you with questions or concerns, but others won’t. Take the time to call home at least once a month to “check in.” Be prepared to share a recent success and then ask if they have any questions or information that would be helpful for you to know. 
I suggest you establish a simple method for tracking your communication so that you are able to provide consistent feedback in an equitable manner. 

I have created a resource that includes 20 templates for documenting communication between school and home. This product was designed as part of my versatile, ink-saving Blackline Design Collection.  It can certainly be used on it's own, but is a great companion to these products:



    It's sort of amazing how many options there are for communicating with parents these days.

    You can email, text, blog, tweet, call, Skype, write notes and of course conference face to face.  While the latter is certainly the best, it is important to establish a system for organizing and documenting your interactions with each of the families with which you work.

    I find the best way to do this is to designate a space for making notes summarizing your varied communications. You don't need to take notes as you are talking with them, but it is helpful to have a written record that you can reference if needed. You want to be able to cross your Ts and dot your Is.  In the event that you are called into question regarding an issue, it will be helpful to be able to say, "On November 3rd we discussed ___ during a phone conversation" or "As mentioned in my note home on December 5th, Johnny had missed 5 homework assignments which has resulted in..." 

    It's also handy dandy to help manage the "to do lists" that result from your interactions with parents. If Suzy's mom calls to say she is having a hard time with the recent math homework and you say you will put together some additional activities to help her, you can use Suzy's documentation page to note your plan and then document when you fulfilled your promise.

    • Essentially you want a designated page for each students. Some teachers like to keep a folder for each student to collect work and will document in there. I prefer to keep a class set of pages together in my teacher binder
    • I put them in order using my number system. This allows me to access them easily (especially if I am making several calls after school or writing notes in daily folders during prep) while at the same time makes it possible to remove them from the binder for conferences and meetings on specific students.
    • After you have communicated with a family: record the date, note who you corresponded with and what form of communication you used, and write a quick summary of your communication.
    • If a "follow-up" is needed, make note of what you will do.
    • Once you've completed the follow-up simply date it or write about specifics if it is warranted.
    • When you complete a page for a student staple a new page to the original.
    • If there is further documentation (printed emails, hand-written notes from parents, photocopies of feedback written on student work, etc) you may want to store those behind your communication log.
    • It may be helpful to have this document on hand when you plan for your parent teacher conferences.

    I have created a resource that includes over 30 templates for documenting communication between school and home. It was designed as part of my Blackline Design Collection.  You can access and download it here: {ORGANIZING PARENT TEACHER COMMUNICATION NOTES}

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