5 Reasons Your Traditional Paper Call Log Needs an Update

June 04, 2019

 Parent and family involvement correlates with higher academic performance as well as overall school improvement. When families are informed and involved, students tend to:

  • Earn higher grades
  • Attend school regularly
  • Enroll in challenging programs
  • Be more motivated in general

One of the most important strategies for fostering parent and family involvement is through open, two-way communication - typically achieved through one-on-one phone calls and texts between classroom teachers and parents. Two-way parent teacher communication creates a balanced, open channel between school and home for sharing information and building collaborative relationships. However, the way in which communication data is recorded, stored, and shared is vital to the usefulness of records for student growth as well as compliance.

If you’re making the effort to keep a parent communication log, why not ensure that the information captured is dependable, searchable, measurable and consistent with all other student data?

Think about it: communication records stand as a resource for supporting RTI committees, documenting medication administration, for custody cases, and just keeping track of requests and questions of highly involved parents. Handwritten call logs are not only spotty and difficult to obtain, but lack the ability to become a resource as part of the student record. It is time for handwritten call logs to move aside for secure, automated, data-driven communication. Let’s talk about some of the reasons why.

1) Paper Call Logs Are Not Easily Accessible

Your school likely uses a digital platform to streamline the sharing of data such as assessments, benchmarks, and grades. After all, data must be in the hands of those who need it in order for it to be relevant and actionable. But why not communication records?

As your district strives to find more ways to bring parents to the table regarding student progress, it’s time for call logs to be digital for monitoring communication metrics, professionalism, compliance, and accessibility.

Google ‘Parent Teacher Communication Log’ and you’ll find hundreds of .pdf templates ready to download - most are absolutely free. Each form is lined with blanks for notes and check boxes to write in whether a parent was called, texted or emailed.

Teachers print a template, punch some holes, and add it to a thick and dusty parent communication binder. Each time a teacher makes or attempts contact, they pull out the binder and write down whether the call went through, was productive, or if they were texting about something positive a student did in class. And if there is no reason to review the data, at the end of the year, most teachers simply throw it away.

Did you just gag on that sentence? Is it because of the amount of time your team is spending filling out outdated paper forms? The danger of missing or unprotected information? Or is it the fear of throwing away information that is useful for Behavior Improvement Plans or documenting IEP communication with parents? You can certainly plan to save the paper files, but paper call logs are not only unreliable, but they are also unsearchable.

How Digital Communication Logs Improve Accessibility

Automatic digital call logs transform the experience of recording information after contact with a parent is made. With SchoolStatus, conversations are recorded automatically for review by the administration and centered on each individual student. Administration stays in the loop and up to date with comprehensive call logs that are accessible at the click of a mouse.

2) Digital Parent Communication Logs Are Shareable with Principals & Superintendents

Picture this: Jose Cooper is in the 7th grade and his parent’s want to speak with administrators about going through an educational evaluation in order to pursue an IEP.

Before the initial meeting, you need to collect Jose’s test scores, homework samples, report cards, medical records, and you guessed it, parent communication regarding the request. How many of Jose’s teachers have his parents already talked to regarding an evaluation and what have they said?

One way to find out would be to email each teacher individually to ask. That could go something like this:

“Mrs. Smith the Science teacher thinks she’s talked to Jose’s parents two or three times, and she does remember Mrs. Cooper speaking about the need for accommodations. She has two of the three conversations documented, but the third one happened while she was at a football game, and she wasn’t able to make notes immediately. Mr. Brown the math teacher spoke with Mr. Cooper after Jose was acting out in class, but doesn’t remember discussing the need for special accommodations.
Mr. Brown has a parent communication call log, but he only documents the occurrence, no content. Your school nurse has contacted Mr. and Mrs. Cooper both multiple times regarding medication, but you aren’t sure whether or not they have discussed anything relevant to the Coopers’ request for an evaluation so you’ll have to search through them individually...”

You see where this is going. Handwritten call logs are both tedious for the teacher as well as obstructive when it comes to getting pertinent information in a timely manner.

Digital Communication Logs are Stored in a Private Cloud to Improve Shareability

SchoolStatus answers your need for immediate, searchable documentation by giving educators tools for communication that can be accessed with the appropriate clearance and shared when the need arises. Communication is safely and reliably recorded, allowing you to collect and use communication without running around from person to person.

3) Paper Communication Logs are Not Secure

Remember the dusty call log as thick as a telephone book that we mentioned earlier? It sits on a shelf in the teacher’s classroom vulnerable to damage by anything from spilled coffee, to accidental fire, and of course potentially accessible to anyone who enters the room.

This is not the level of security you aspire to and certainly not the level of security you maintain for other forms of student data. You wouldn’t be satisfied with test scores or IEP records in insecure locations. Why is this enough for communication records?

Building relationships with parents through one-on-one communication also means building mutual trust and a shared sense of security. Parent conversations have the potential to reveal strained home lives, embarrassing financial situations, or maybe insight into student behavior that helps illuminate academic struggles. This data does not belong in paper files where it is never accessed and never contributes to a student’s health and success. And it certainly never belongs in a place where sensitive information could be lost or accessed by the wrong person.

Digital Student Data Suites Provide Enterprise-Level Security

Your communication records must be treated with the same sense of vulnerability as the rest of your student data, because that’s what it is. With SchoolStatus, communication records are protected by the same banking-level security as the rest of your student data. Knowing that sensitive information isn’t being recorded by hand gives you peace of mind that meaningful insight doesn’t fall through the cracks - and that you can access it when you need to. Safely.

4) Digital Communication Logs Can Play Back Call Recording

Everyone loved the game of ‘Telephone’ on the playground as children. One person whispers a message in a friends ear, then that person shares what he heard with the next friend and so on and so on. By the time it reaches the end of a line of children, the message is distorted and everyone is rolling with laughter.

The game is hilarious when the message was nonsense from the get-go. It’s just not as funny when it comes to parent phone calls. Don’t be the individual on the end of the line with a message that’s so far from the truth that you can’t put any weight on it.

Get the Facts Straight with Call Recording Playback Features

SchoolStatus audio records all phone calls with parents and family. What that means is every time a teacher places a call to a parent, whether from their computer or the mobile app, the entirety of the call is added to the digital cumulative folder for that particular student inside SchoolStatus along with a transcription of the phone call.

When that call data is then automatically placed side-by-side with all text messages and emails sent to those parents and family members associated with a student, you finally get a VERY clear picture of ALL of the communication that has happened with a family over the course of their time in your district.

See how this school district engaged with parents at the digital level in our featured case study.

5) Data Visualization is Only Possible with Digital Communication Logs

When Galena Park ISD introduced SchoolStatus to their parent communication efforts in 2018, administrators saw over 2,000 text messages go out in just two weeks. These impressive numbers beg the question: If you don’t know how frequently your team is engaging with parents and family, how do you know if it is happening frequently enough?

Digital Communication Logs Help Illustrate Raw Data

Whether comparing school to school or even looking at individual teacher efforts with parent communication, tracking the frequency of interactions in SchoolStatus provides visual administrative oversight above and beyond the capabilities that handwritten call logs can ever provide.

Visualize - IVEC

Intuitive charts demonstrate when communication is happening as well as giving you the ability to drill down into why text messages are happening with greater frequency on, say, a random Sunday morning.

Without data visualization into your communication records, you are potentially ignoring a wealth of insight into your unique school culture.

Your traditional call logs are obscuring information that is vital to the health of your campus. Digital call logs provide insight into content and frequency as well as support your efforts towards parent communication.

Not convinced? See how digital call logs work and experience the power of big data in your school district.

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