February 20, 2012

Parent Communication

True Confession: I never call parents.

You might not believe that the never is literal, but it's absolutely true. I also rarely call my friends and my mother always calls me; the phone and I are not friends in general. Then when you put it on the complete opposite side of the room from my desk, away from the computer filled with info on the students? Just not gonna happen.

The school runs on quarters and we send out progress reports mid-quarter. So that means I send out parent communication every 5 weeks (although it's in the format of comments chosen from a list). Every mailing includes the school phone number and my email address. I am really efficient at responding to parent emails. They always receive replies within one school day filled with specific information as well as general resources. One of those general resources is that my entire online grade book is visible to parents online. Combine that with my course web page and parents have constant access to past grades, make up work, tonight's homework and current topics of study. Plus, I share this information with students regularly and I think high schoolers need to be independent. And lastly, I may only be year 5 but I'm already jaded- in my first school I was on a freshman team and we set up parent meetings all the time, but I never noticed any effect. I don't doubt that parents want the best for their kids and I don't blame them for not being able to attend conferences. Teens are supposed to be learning independence and figuring out how to be adults- I've had the most success appealing to them as owners of their own learning.

Despite all these rationalizations, I still feel guilty when people talk about calling parents. And this past week at potluck I got a look of shock when I made the "they're in high school" comment. I know that I won't keep a resolution to call parents, but I think I could reasonably expect to do a modified version of what Kate recently shared her high school does- postcards. I designed some postcards (on vistaprint since they're always having crazy sales and I can get them on recycled paper) that I can use to send home both kudos and concerns. I think my goal will be 4 cards each week (one for each of my regular ed classes) to start and then pare down to one "yay your kid did something great!" and one "please check in with your child about math" every Friday. I hope that I see some real response to this so I'm motivated to continue!


  1. Be careful with Vistaprint - my credit card was compromised when I got business cards through them.

  2. Oh no! Good thing I used PayPal.