Monday, September 9, 2013


Maintaining Contact with Parents

For the life of me I can't remember where I heard this story. It could have been from a colleague, a friend, a teacher, or a blog. Essentially the story goes:

A parent came in to complain about her child's grades and how the school needed to be doing more.  The employee looked at her and said, "Name three of your child's teachers." The parent paused nodded her head and said, "I see your point, have a nice day."

The moral of the story is that parents tend to only get involved when things go bad, when they would be more useful getting involved from the start!

On the first day of class we do several things. I have a PowerPoint where I go over class expectations and rules. Then they fill out a gap fill restating the rules. The final part is to take the paper home to their parents. The bottom of the paper is a short letter (in Spanish) to the parents. It explains that they can access engrade, or twitter to get a hold of me in addition to my e-mail. I also offer to speak with them in Spanish if they don't feel comfortable in English.

This way, right away I have opened up the channels of communication. Not all parents choose to contact me, but I know that I gave them the option to get involved from day one.

This year when I sent out the letter I received an e-mail that very night from a mother sent from her iPhone. It was written in Spanish, but the loosely translated it said, "Hello. It is very nice on your part to introduce yourself, and it is very nice to meet you. I am the mother of (student). This is the first time that a teacher has shown this kindness. I wish you the best."

I know it is silly, but notes like that really make me feel like I am on the right track.

There are some more suggestions here. How do you make sure that your parents stay up to date with your class?


  1. Absolutely. A "sunshine" letter/call to parents on the first day is an absolute necessity of teaching. Lots of teachers (wrongly) wait for trouble before getting in contact with parents. Getting off on the right foot is a much better way to do things. That way they know that you are on their side and you can work as a team together (with the help of Google translate!).

    I'm also going to start using class blogs in my new job starting in January to help keep in contact with parents. It's best to keep as many avenues open as possible.

    1. I am so glad to hear you agree Mark. I've never heard the phrase, "sunshine letter" but I love it!

      What are you thinking you would have in your class blog?

  2. I'll need to do some more research into it, but definitely classwork/homework assignments and projects, links to relevant websites, examples of best work, photos of students doing class activities, etc. Any more you can think of?

    I'm also going to start my own reflective blog at the end of the year to help me with own professional development and collaboration. I'll start planning these two when I have a bit more time in October.

    1. Seems like a start! I am honestly not sure what I'd do. I do put things on twitter for my students, but it is usually just reminders, assignments, funny links related to class. I suppose I could ass things to make it "family" friendly. This gives me ideas ... :)


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