Teacher-blogger Katie Hernandez shares practices from her class
Relationships are at the very core of education, and it is vital that we remain on the same page with our students’ guardians to share successes as well as areas for improvement. We want to make these communications a two-way street, and we’re always looking for ways to make this whole process more streamlined, efficient, and sustainable. We’ve all done the “try-to-keep-hand-written-notes-and-Google-sheets-and-Post-Its” jig, and it usually doesn’t work out too well for us or for parents. There is a better way! Let’s talk all things Family/guardian communication log – without constantly fighting stress and mountains of paperwork!
The best advice I can offer any teacher is to set up your log at the beginning of the year and be consistent!
The importance of keeping a log:
Why do we need to keep a log of Family contact at all? Why can’t we just make calls when we need to and be done? For one, this log may come in handy if a situation with a Family or student escalates and you need to hold a meeting with the family and principal. Having a record of all prior communication will help you appear organized and professional and can prevent wrongful accusations. On a more day-to-day basis, having some record of Family communication for each child allows you to track a student’s progress on those more subjective, character-based learning standards. Lastly, it will also show you if any parents are flying under the radar and are less frequently contacted.
Start off on the right foot:
I always make a personal introductory call to parents at the beginning of the year, in addition to the welcome material I set up in our ClassTag portal. This way, we have a chance to build a rapport before I have really even gotten to know the student. This kind of unity is something kids can really sense, so I have found this beginning of the year call to have great results. Then, of course, I’ll contact parents because of outstanding behavior or grades. Again, I find that starting the relationship out with a casual get-to-know-each other call diminishes the “blow” if I need to contact parents for a negative reason.
In my case, I see 15 classes a week, with anywhere from 14-25 students in each class, so I have to keep my system for contacting parents and keeping records very simple.
So we’ve arrived at the question of the hour: how do we keep track of all these conversations over the course of a year? My methods include both a paper copy log and a digital log.
During class, I carry a paper seating chart on a clipboard and keep my Family log on the back. When something happens (positive or negative), I make a short note on this log. Then, I make a digital copy when I have more time and have taken the appropriate action (phone call, email, etc). This is where I log what happened, actions taken, who I talked to, what I told the parents, and any other pertinent information.
I will stand behind any techy tool that helps teachers do their jobs more efficiently. ClassTag has been a fantastic portal for Family communication that I can access from anywhere. Even if parents prefer me to contact them via phone, I always follow up on ClassTag with a written message thanking them and summarizing what we talked about. This little digital “thank you note” not only builds trust with families but it also (bonus!) assists with maintaining a digital Family contact log. At the end of the day, anything that helps teachers focus on students and families and less on updating spreadsheets or paper files is a win-win for everyone!
ClassTag is the only technology that really empowers you to reach any Family. To get set up for success in 18/19, sign up free today >>
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