To reach parents, do you email? Text?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by nooteach, May 2, 2019.

  1. nooteach

    nooteach New Member

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    May 2, 2019

    I've seen a lot of great threads about parent communication with advice around sharing good news as well as bad news. And around weekly updates.

    What about digital communications? Do you/how do you handle emails with parents? Do you ever text with parents?
     
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  3. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    I would never text because I do not have a school issue phone. Parents should not have your personal phone number. I email parents because then I have a record of what I say to them and what they say to me (they can't say I didn't tell them something when it's recorded in an email, etc.).
     
  4. nooteach

    nooteach New Member

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    May 2, 2019

    Good advice, thanks.

    I also found the a few threads that mentioned Remind, Google Voice, Bloomz, Dojo, and some other services.

    The threads were from 2016 and 2017, anyone have any more recent thoughts on which parent communication platforms are most helpful?
     
  5. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I personally love Bloomz because I can do more stuff with it.

    I am a big believer in not giving a parent my personal number. They don't need it. And to be truthful, I would trust the majority of parents to not abuse it, but it still strikes me as crossing a professional boundary. It's my personal phone, the school does not pay for it, therefore I should not use it for work.
     
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  6. DinoTeach

    DinoTeach Rookie

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    May 2, 2019

    In my career I think I've allowed one parent to call me on my cell phone, and we knew each other as acquaintances BEFORE her kid was in my class. I would caution against providing your personal number to parents.

    I call for contentious issues, mostly to report behavior and consequences. I email about grades. If a parent sends me a nasty email, I CALL them back. One responder said it's nice to have the conversation recorded via email, which has some truth to it. On the other hand, far less gets accomplished over email and the few nasty parents there are become far more tame on the phone. There are advantages to each, so you have to gauge the situation and use your best judgment. I would recommend keeping record of phone conversations and briefly summarizing what was said. We are able to do this via our grade book/attendance system.
     
  7. DinoTeach

    DinoTeach Rookie

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    One more: I email positive messages so the parents can print it and keep it.
     
  8. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Fanatic

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    E-mail I think is the best way to go. Texting parents is a bit risky. Sure 19 out of 20 parents probably fine, but I worry about that 20th one. Also, as principals I have worked for have tended to discourage teachers from texting, I think I might get less support if there is a problem with a text.
     
  9. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    May 3, 2019

    Email or school office phone. I don't think it's appropriate for a parent to have my personal cell phone number so texting is out. The ONLY reason a parent would have my cell phone number is if we knew each other and we're friends before their child got into my classroom. Which has happened. However, once their child becomes my student, certain guidelines are established. My work does not currently pay for my cell phone, thus it is not used to communicate with parents. Both my districts specifically have policies about this as well.

    Unless I have to provide more often updates on a student's performance, I generally don't call parents about grades or behavior (currently — there's a lot of stuff changing) as it's not really my responsibility to do so as a classroom teacher. They get progress reports halfway through the semester at the 9wk mark.... If parents have questions, want to schedule a conference with me that's fine. Call the main school line, or email me. You can even stop by unannounced and most of the time I'm probably still there and I'll be happy to chat with you. We can't refuse parent requests for conferences.
     
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  10. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    My first couple years as a non-tenured teacher, I was big on calling and emailing home. Through the years, I've found that contacting the parents did more harm than good. If I email Junior's mom to say he has a "D", she likely gets defensive, and then we have to go back and forth with the emails. Then she sends him in for extra help. Since he doesn't want to be in extra help, he usually just sits there and expects me to spoonfeed him stuff, rather than him asking me questions. Now, after having more experience, I generally only email home when the student is legit failing the course, rather than having a D. This almost never happens since I teach upper level math classes, so students who would have been failing usually drop my class before that can happen. As such, I find that I don't contact parents very often. My gradebook is updated DAILY so they can know how their child is doing, and I will happily respond to their emails if they reach out to me.
     
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  11. Lisabobisa

    Lisabobisa Companion

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    May 3, 2019

    Remind is my go to. Only on rare extenuating circumstances (twice in the 7 years of teaching I have done so far) do I give a parent my number but NEVER to a difficult or demanding parent.
     
  12. DinoTeach

    DinoTeach Rookie

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    I generally don't call parents about grades or behavior (currently — there's a lot of stuff changing) as it's not really my responsibility to do so as a classroom teacher.

    Can you expound on this? What's the expectation in your district?
     
  13. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    May 6, 2019

    So I'm moving into a VP role next year, so things will change. But until then, I'm a high school teacher. And unless a student has special needs that warrants updates more frequently from the teacher than the standard 1/3 quarter progress reports and 2/4 quarter report cards, we're not required to call parents. If they get sent to the office, or detention or whatever, we're still not required to call them. If it's serious the admin team does that. And I definitely don't call about Johnny not turning in his homework.
     
  14. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    We are required to call once a quarter for failing grades, and document it. We are required to contact for tardies on the 2nd tardy, and document it. I make a point to make a positive call for each negative call. It balances things out. I'm one of those weird teachers who really enjoys parent contact.
     
  15. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    So our parents have access to blackboard online for the district where they can check grades, attendance, teacher policy, etc. They can even schedule a conference fairly quickly and easily.

    This may sound harsh, but I don't believe in baby sitting high schoolers. They are old enough to take responsibility for their grades and their attendance etc. They can check their grades real-time. Whatever the teacher has updated is in there. It even gives you a projected final grade.
     
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  16. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Connoisseur

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    May 6, 2019

    Our principal encouraged us greatly to use some sort of electronic communication, not email but something like classdojo or bloomz. I use classdojo. It has been a life saver. The documentation alone is what I love about it.
     
  17. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Our parents have to call the students' counselor to schedule a conference. Some of these (such as notification for 2nd tardy) are district policies. While our online system does notify for failing grades, that does not count as parent contact because there is no guarantee they got the phone call. So, we have to document that we have called and spoken to a parent, or gotten an email from the parent. It's part of our SBLC documentation. (Any kid failing 2 or more classes has an SBLC meeting.)

    I also frequently call home for positive things. A student gave an excellent performance, they are being recommended for some award, they wrote a powerful screenplay, etc. Parents love being able to brag on their kids!

    High school students are still kids. They are big kids, who seem (and sometimes act...) grown. But they are not. They are kids, learning how to navigate the world. They need guidance, and I find I am a more successful teacher when I'm in regular communication with parents about the progress of their children.
     
  18. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    Yes, they are kids. I have two of my own. But consider this: a high schooler is 17. His mom calls the insurance company to dispute a payment. That's fine — he's 17. He turns 18 the next day, parent can no longer call in to talk about his account — he needs to do that himself.
     
  19. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I have students as young as 14 at the beginning of the year. I find the majority of my calls are to underclassmen. Or to students identified as having special needs of some kind. It's the culture of our school to be in regular contact with parents, about weaknesses, and celebrations. It works for our school (very well, based on the success of our school.) I've made some moms of seniors very happy calling to tell them about successes on projects in the past few weeks. A few cried, because they feel like successfully directing a whole short movie and being recognized by their peers for doing a good job shows good leadership so maybe their kid does have hope for the future. We build connections with families, and it makes us closer to the community.
     
  20. MntnHiker

    MntnHiker Rookie

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    May 7, 2019

    I typically email if their email is listed in our online grade/attendance program. Occasionally, I call if it's something more serious like cheating, continued disruptive behavior, etc. Our admin prefers we call because they think the results are better with parents responding, but I have found it's about the same whether I call or email--I usually hear back from about 50% of parents. Email is easier for me, as I can do it during study hall, at 9:00 at night if I think of it, etc.

    If I do call, it's from my classroom work phone. I NEVER give out my cell phone number to parents or students.
     
  21. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    Another point to consider--when I email, it becomes part of the school record. Were I to text, there would be no record that belonged to the school as my phone belongs to me. Additionally, texting tends to be more casual, and your communications should ALWAYS be professional- even when you are friends beyond the teacher-parent role. I'm fairly confident that parents may have lives as well, and would probably prefer not to get a text that Jimmy is failing, or Sally punched a friend, or whatever, while they are with their boss or while they are having dinner. Email allows people to control when and where they receive or send a message, while texting does not give one that type of control.
     
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