family · first week · · parent communication · parent volunteers · parents · relationships · student numbers

Reeling in Parents, Part 1

Howdy, y’all

It feels so weird to not be planning for back to school this year.  I’m not going back to school this fall; I’m going to spend at least half the school year home with our tiny nuggets.  But just because I’m not going back myself doesn’t mean I don’t have lots of ideas and feelings for you.  Last night, I shared my gigantic parent contact form that I always send home the first day of school.  If you missed the post last night, you can find the forms here in my TpT store for a paltry $2.  Basically, I’m going to blog about how I used these forms to hit the ground running with parent communication and track said communication throughout the year.  Even though I’m focusing on how I use one specific product, I anticipate that this will be kind of a long post.  You might want to grab some coffee/Diet Coke/wine now and settle in.  Whatever floats your boat.

The first thing you should know about me is that I love to organize.  Specifically, I love to organize in binders.  Few things make me happier than putting projects into binders with post-it tabs.  I’m feeling happy just thinking about it.  So after I get these forms back throughout the first week of school, I put them into a parent contact binder that will stay close to my teacher table for the entire school year.  Generally, I print out some type of cover sheet to look something like this.

Don’t you worry, my pretties.  There’s a page like this in the pack of forms on TpT, so that you too can obsessively label your binders.  Okay, so once I label the outside of my binder, I get to work on the inside.  Something else you should know about me (and something I’ll talk more about later) is that I number my students every year.  They use this number all the time; it’s in their cubby, on their folders, pencils, erasers, and it’s also how they line up.  They get a number on the first day of school and it stays the same until they leave my classroom.  So the next thing I do with this binder is put forms in by number.  As students return their form, I hole punch them and stick a post-it label with their number on it at the edge, so that when all the forms have been turned in my binder looks something like this–full of returned parent forms, and numbered tabs.

What you can also see in this picture is the pages I use to track communication I have with parents.  Unfortunately, that’s not something I made so I don’t have that available yet, but I can make something to share.  Before I had this handy tracker, I used to just put a few blank pages of printer paper behind each parent communication form to track our interactions.  I kept really close track of parent interaction for several reasons.  First, I like to make sure I have a balance of positive communication and constructive communication.  Tracking parent communication can also help me notice trends in behavior that I might not have noticed otherwise.  It’s a little hard to see, but basically the way I tracked communication was by tracking the date, the way I talked to the parent (in person, via phone or text, sending a note home, etc.), and what we discussed.  If we were discussing a particular behavior, I tried to note our outcome so that I could follow up with them again.  It sounds a little aggressive, but it probably took me about 2 minutes to track, and I could do most of it while waiting for parents to answer the phone.

The last thing I keep in my parent communication binder is this schedule/calendar that I keep at the front.  It’s just a quick overview of parents who are willing to come in and volunteer in our classroom.  I split it by AM and PM, and just put in parents who are willing to come in on each day and what they’re willing to do.  Some parents say they’ll do anything I need, so I don’t mark tasks for them.  I only note if there are parents who have said they’ll do specific things, like prep work stations or make copies.  I also make sure to put their phone number on the schedule so that I can quickly contact them without having to go back into the whole binder.  After I make it, I slide it into a page protector and keep it at the front of my binder for the year.  
Okay, friends.  Thanks for sticking with me to the end!  I’ll be back 3 more times over the next week or so with more parent communication ideas.  


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