Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ain't Too Proud to Beg? Parent/Teacher Communication!

I attend the same church as one of  my students' parents. I know her mom very well.  After service she made, I guess what she thought was a joke, and said, "I have never had a teacher email the parents as much as you do! I asked my mom if you have a life?"
I didn't think it was funny.

I told her that I have a life, it doesn't take me that long to send an email, and that I had only sent three emails that month. I guess I answered a bit tersely because she hastened to let me know how much she appreciated the fact that I kept in touch with my parents.

On the other hand, at Open House a parent applauded the fact that I used technology to keep in touch with the parents. (email, webpage, Remind101, Edmodo...) She welcomed the choice to be involved in her child's life, and was so thankful that I took the time to give her that option. I had a number of parents last year who felt the same way.

However, I was disappointed by the response to my latest "updates" email. I didn't get any more parents to join  Remind101, and only two of my parents read and commented on their child's blog. When I look at the names of the 8 parents who have joined Remind101, or the ones that commented on their child's blog, I am not surprised. And no, their kids are not all super bright, some are struggling. But their parents are involved and want to stay in touch.  I hope that  there will be more responses, and my email is not lost, forgotten, or deleted.

How do I get more parents involved? I think I am doing all the right things. I email them, have a class website, the parent code is available on Edmodo, I make positive phone calls, and have enabled Remind101, what else can I do? Is there anything else I can do?
Or do I need to get a life? :)


  1. I am not sure what grades you are teaching, but as both a parent and a teacher, I "backed off" as my son became older. In fact, I even chose to teach at another school when he entered high school. I stepped out and allowed him to move into that world without me. My reasoning was that in a few years he would be in college, and that last thing I wanted to do was make him overly dependent on me. Granted, I had a child who made this process easier as he was there doing what he needed to do. But I guess a part of me in reading your post wants you to be "careful what you wish for". It's OK for parents not to know every move their child makes in school and sooner or later, they have to make their own decisions, face their own consequences, and live their own lives. Parents do not always "get involved" in ways that are best for their children.

  2. Wow! That is a hard one. The parents in my district are hard to get ahold of and don't necessarily like to be involved. So I feel your pain. Have you tried nontechy ways to reach them? I am sure you have, but the problem in our district with that is the majority of our families don't have computers. Maybe you or your school could set up one night a week with an open lab so parents could not only check in on their kiddos, but use the computer....appropriately that is!

  3. @Anonymous Thanks for the comment! I teach 5th grade and I want my parents involved. Not "every single minute of the day " or "helicopter parent" involved. I just want them involved, and when a child is 10 or 11, I think they still want to know their parent is involved.

  4. @kmachi Thanks for the comment! Yes, I also call my parents, leave notes in the Agenda book, and send home letters.

  5. I think Anonymous made a great point, but I definitely would hope for more parent involvment with 5th graders. I think you're doing all the right things. Perhaps focusing on more of the specific individualized stuff you're already doing and less on the general informative emails. But don't give up! You're doing great things!

  6. Lisa, from a blogging/ email marketing standpoint alone, if you knew the answer to how to get people to open your emails and respond to your blog posts (aka GET INVOLVED) you could STOP teaching today and become a multi-millionaire showing people YOUR system, because I have yet to find ANY system that consistently GETS PEOPLE INVOLVED via email/ blogging.

    As a parent, I have a 9-year-old in grade 4. I walk her to school (just across the street) every day and I often get to see and BRIEFLY chat with her teacher who is out on bus duty.

    Yesterday my daughter got TWO nosebleeds from playing rough in the school yard; I got TWO phone calls from her teacher.

    Last week was "Curriculum Night" and we got to officially meet/ greet the new teacher (he's new to the school this year). He was well-prepared and very approachable. He made it clear that he was available via many different modes of communication but he demonstrated that the agenda would be the preferred link.

    Rare is the day where there isn't some kind of note/letter/permission slip/etc coming home from school. So I guess what I'm saying is that as a parent of a 9-year-old,

    YES - ABSOLUTELY I want to be involved!

    On the other hand, because I believe grade 4 is the beginning of the 'transition' years, I also want to foster more independence and responsibility for self in my daughter.

    For sure, it's a delicate balancing act. And for sure you're not going to please everyone all the time.

    This is a great question! I enjoyed reading and pondering. Thanks for letting me share.

    All the best from Toronto,