Use these 5 ideas for organizing parent stuff. (1) Publish a newsletter or website. (2) Share dates on a calendar. (3) Create a parent email group. (4) Create a parent communication email folder. (5) Record all parent communications.
Ms. Sneed Gets Help Organizing Parent Stuff
As she began her career, Ms. Sneed (our favorite fourth grade teacher) wasn’t sure how to communicate with parents. “Organizing parent stuff is essential,” said her mentor, Mrs. Brown. “Once you get the ball rolling, you’ll reach out more often – and with more purpose.”
1 Newsletter or Website
First, Mrs. Brown showed Ms. Sneed a few parent newsletters. “Many teachers at this school send out weekly newsletters,” she said. “But I think it’s too time-consuming. Plus, parents expect it. So if you get busy, you can’t even skip a week. In my opinion, a monthly newsletter works better. However, I prefer to have no newsletter at all.”
As she continued to talk, Mrs. Brown accessed a class website on her computer. “A class website keeps parents informed just fine. This way, you can let still them know about tests, projects, programs, etc. With a website, you don’t need to update every week or month. Instead, you can do it when needed.
“A website is faster and easier. Not only that, but you don’t need to make copies or worry whether it gets home.”
Mrs. Brown clicked over to another site. “To build a simple Google website for your classroom, try this tutorial.
“To publish your website, hit share in the upper right-hand corner of your website. Choose the level of privacy you’d like. With Classic Google Sites, you can set it so only those with the link can view or make it visible to everyone.
“Just a word of advice. The parents in my class kept losing the URL. Suggest that they bookmark it. Also, if you make the site public on the web, they can simply search for it.”
Mrs. Brown clicked back to the classroom website and selected “calendar” in the sidebar. “Online or on paper, a class calendar lets parents and students know what to expect,” she said. “Calendars may be shared weekly or monthly. Start with tests and projects, then expand as desired. Here’s a link that will show you how to create a Google calendar.”
3 Parent Email Group
Mrs. Brown clicked over to her email. “To simplify parent communication, make an email group. As soon as your class list is established, add parents’ email addresses to your contacts. Keep email addresses private by placing addresses in BCC (blind carbon copy) whenever you send a mass email. I cannot tell you how much this little trick has helped me!
“I’m sending you another link. This one will show you how to create a group on your Gmail account.”
4 Parent Communication Email Folder
Moving the mouse to the left-hand side of the screen, Mrs. Brown pointed out some email groups. “File emails from parents in a separate folder,” she said. “Simply create a new folder and call it ‘Parent Communication.’ Every time a parent emails you, move the email to that folder. This creates a paper trail and ensures that you will not lose (or accidentally delete) important correspondence.
“Now, I hope you don’t have a parent problem this year. However, keeping old emails can save your skin if there is one.
“Again, I’m sending you a link. This one will explain how to create a folder on your Gmail account.”
5 Parent Communication Log
Reaching in a folder, Mrs. Brown pulled out a sheet of paper. “You should also log all parent communication. Again, this will protect you in the event of a disagreement. You can make copies of this page for each of your students.”
“Wow, thanks,” said Ms. Sneed.
“Organizing parent stuff,” added Mrs. Brown, “helps you build relationships with your students’ families. Try it. You’ll be glad you did!”
Over the course of her career, Ms. Sneed realized that there were 6 steps to enjoy teaching. In order to survive, she had to organize, plan, and simplify. Then, to thrive, Ms. Sneed needed to learn, engage, and finally – dive in! Follow the Fabulous Teaching Adventures of Ms. Sneed and learn how you can enjoy teaching too.