Sometimes, I think teachers must be those people who thrive on stress. There should be some official category for this in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. How else do you explain the existence of an estimated 3.2 million teachers who stand in front of classrooms with coffee in hand, a plan, and a smile? Maybe it’s hitting me harder this year because I am lacking the conference period and I find it a struggle to keep smiling for six periods and then once the last student leaves, find time to do THE REST OF MY JOB. Admittedly, unless a child is proving to be a behavior problem in class, parents are generally not high on my list of must-dos for the day. However, as a special education teacher, I know that the parents are critical in the success of my students. Therefore, I have found the only way to keep parents involved is to PLAN for parent communication.
Schedule Email Time
The only way I will communicate with parents is to write it into my weekly plans. Even with this, I am only contacting parents about every six weeks, but in doing this, I open the door so that parents know they can also contact me. My plan is fairly simple:
- Every week, focus on one class
- Email the parents of any student receiving a D or lower
- Send out POSITIVE emails
- Use canned responses
At first, I debated about whether or not this was worth sharing on a public forum. But if I were to tell the truth, my first years as a teacher involved very little parent input. Perhaps most teachers find parent communication a natural part of the profession–however, I struggled with this responsibility for years.
Canned Email Responses
This year, my school enabled Gmail and canned responses is an amazing option that saves me time each week. Before this, I simply had canned responses saved in Docs and I cut-and-paste my responses fairly quickly.
Enabling Canned Responses in Gmail
Creating a Canned Response
In following this simple plan, I have increased parent engagement throughout the past year and I’ve been able to utilize an enormous resource (parents) for my students.
How do you keep parents informed?