Thursday, November 3, 2016

Parent Communication by Mike Siekkinen

How do you communicate with your students’ parents?  

Setting up a routine way to communicate with parents will make your life easier and your students more productive. Most of the time, parents are your greatest asset and support with student learning. Experienced teachers know there are “always a few” parents who are not the most supportive but as a general rule, they can make things happen in ways that you cannot.

I have found many ways to help this process along. First, during open house, get email addresses. I will have a couple computers set up in my room and have a Google form set up to have parents fill out. This gives me a good start on a data base of parent emails. Secondly, I send out an introduction letter the first few days of school, requesting the same thing from parents. Any parent not responding will get a phone call from me asking for an email. I always have a few students without internet access but the vast majority has it even if they do not have a computer (smartphones).

Once established, I do a weekly email to all parents, telling them what we are doing, important test dates, assignments coming up, etc. I send the same information home for my few students without an address on paper by simply printing the email contents into a document. I also use this form of communication to request supplies and inform parents when report cards are coming, school functions are happening, etc. I prefer to use my school email address when sending out information as the parent can then easily reply back if they have questions. The only thing to be cautious about is when sending, use BCC (blind copy) so you are not sharing anyone’s email address with anyone else. With a routine method of communication set up, you’re making allies with parents as well as covering your butt with due dates and class requirements. No one can say they didn’t know about an assignment if you can prove you sent it to a parent!

Do you have any helpful tips to improve parent communication? Does your district have another standard method? Tell us what’s going on in your school.

Dr. Mike Siekkinen, a retired U.S. Navy submariner, became a teacher as a second career. He teaches history at St Marys Middle School as well as Adult and Career Education at Valdosta State in Georgia.