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Sage Advice: What's the best way to stay connected to parents?

Sage Advice: What's the best way to stay connected to parents?

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Some of you may remember we had a column in the Edutopia magazine called Sage Advice. Now that we're going online-only, we wanted to reignite the spirit of Sage Advice here in the Edutopia community. Anyone can post a Sage Advice question. All you have to do is put the words "Sage Advice" in front of your question. And Sage Advice questions can be posted in any of the groups. And of course, anyone can answer a Sage Advice question. So without further ado, here's the first one... What's the best way to stay connected to parents?
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Margaret's picture

An idea I plan to use this year is to send a positive postcard to each of my students over the course of the year. I will ask each of my teachers to nominate a different 3 students each month, including the positives each child is displaying - be it social or academic. I'll include those positives in my note to the child.
In administrative positions, it seems that parental communication tends about a "problem" rather than about a success. While the postcards will be addressed to each student, I hope to open up positive communications to each of our families in this way.

Debi Lewis's picture

Totally agree.  Even in high school, students are still learning organization, accountability and responsibility.  Parents still need to be in that loop.

Debi Lewis's picture

Tanya....I have had your experience, but have parents who don't admit to having access to a computer because they do not want to be held accountable or want to receive communications from school. I often feel that I am working harder to get the parent involved than the student.

Tammy Miller's picture

I understand your frustration. My concern for you regarding texting is that I used my personal cell phone last year to call a parent from my classroom. Because of privacy issues and no phones available in front of a computer where I keep my grades, I used my cell phone. I had no problems until one mother used my phone number to reach me after her son had an altercation in my classroom. The mother called me to hear over the phone my take on it and who threw the first punch. I thought she was calling for her son to apologize to me (boy was I wrong). I do not think this year I will use my personal phone to make calls to parents and if parents do not have e-mail, unfortunately, they will be at a loss. The only other idea is to use snail mail (my school pays for the postage).

Marcia's picture

I agree that grades and communication is different. Grades are only one aspect of a student's progress. I use technology to put up a weekly webpage for general information - the student needs to be responsible for the day to day assignments and information or we have Learned Helplessness. I have parents go online and do the work, organize everything and the student drops out of the loop - he has learned that mom and dad will pick up the job. Why should they work?

Christina R's picture

Email is at the top of my list, since I don't have to count on a child remembering to dig a note out of their backpack to get information to the parents. Taking some time to head out to the parking lot before or after school also helps out. I can catch a parent with a quick conversation, and I make it a point to catch them for the good things as well as other issues.

Jean Sheridan's picture

I disagree with the parent. I have a Masters Degree in Education and have been working with middle and high school teachers for the past 7 years. Parents MUST know what's going on in each class with their child. They MUST take responsibility for teaching their child how to be responsible and hold their child accountable.

Having worked with over 100 teachers who teach 100's of students, over and over again I see that the students who have parent involvement are more successful. And by parent involvement I do not mean asking the child what's going on in school. Parents must take an active role in their child's education. The bigger picture of education is too important to have parents not take active roles and be MIA thinking and expecting that the schools will/should take care of it.

Work with your schools and teachers; not against them. Work as a team to give your child the best education possible. Each parent must have a role in educating their child!

Jane Newton's picture

Worrying about stressing kids with grade pressure is such a refreshing way to look at things but I must say, as a high school teacher, that students and parents have come to rely so heavily on those up-to-the-minute postings that I can't imagine the majority ever agreeing to slow down the info flow.  My biggest concern is that once a grade is posted, too many parents and kids worry about arguing the score/making up minor missing assignments rather than focusing on what is current and not yet due.  No perfect system, but at least parents are in the loop and many follow-up with emails to get the specific feedback.    I have had great success with positive post cards but like the idea of trying to text those without email.  So much better than phone tag and if there is a language barrier, they can get help translating rather than be timid about getting in touch.  Thanks.

Jane Newton's picture

I often send out emails about upcoming work to shift the emphasis on "keeping up" rather than just "making up" which happens AFTER the grade is posted online. A heads-up to parents of a big due date approaching and link to the posted assignment on my website has been successful rather than waiting until the project is late.

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