Okay, rant over, I just had to vent for a second to people other than my husband... :) You want to know another thing that stresses me out? Parent communication. I'm talking about the parent communication outside of newsletters and conferences, you know the difficult phone calls, the small talk while they volunteer, classroom parties, etc... Maybe it's because I'm not a parent and I can't connect with them on the parenting level, or maybe it's just my personality, I'm very much an introvert.
Parent communication got easier as time went by at my old school, because I had a rapport with many of my parents from either having one of their other children previously and because I had been in the building for a while. Even though now and again I had to make some really difficult phone calls and deal with some uncomfortable situations, most of the parents I dealt with were very kind and respectful, and I felt overall I had a really good relationship with the parents of the kiddos in my class.
Moving to a new school this past year was hard, because I didn't have that rapport. Many parents thought it was my first year of teaching ever, even though it obviously wasn't. I even had one parent this year pretty much bully me with very mean notes almost daily. Thankfully, I have a great principal who is very supportive of his teachers and who basically told her "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it all."
Since parent communication can be a source of stress for me, I try to keep it as organized as possible. I have a binder with tabs for all my students, numbered so I don't have to change them each year, with the forms pictured below for each of my kiddos.
I run these two forms 1-2 sided on the copier and have them on my students desk at Meet the Teacher Night. These forms are super helpful, because I know exactly how the parents want to be contacted when I need to communicate with them and I have a place to record notes of our communication, this is especially helpful for phone calls and little school chats about various issues. If a parent sends in a note/email, I place a copy of the note/email, as well as my response, in their child's spot in my binder as well.
I give my parents this form at Meet the Teacher, but encourage them to take it home, and really think about their answers. I tell them to write as little, or as much as they would like, but this form really does help me get to know my students so well from the people that love them the most, their families. I also refer to the goals they have for their child/any concerns they have for the school year during our first conference as well.
I have upload these forms to Google Drive for you, so strange to not say Google Docs. Just click on the pictures to download. The parent contact information sheet and the parent survey are in one PDF, and the log is a separate PDF file.
What tips do you have for organizing parent communication? Do you have any tips to share for dealing with difficult parents? Share in the comments below, so we can all learn from each other! :) Oh, and don't forget you can like Fourth and Ten on Facebook, my page has been feeling a little bit lonely. ;)