Family Communications, Part 2

Nov 7, 2012

As promised, we wanted to share additional Google and paper-based ideas and for making and tracking family contact. Claire S., an early childhood teacher in Washington, DC, and two loyal blog commenters (thanks Carol and Xuan!) contributed the great solutions below.

1. Google Survey forms. Claire made a Google survey form for parent contacts of all kinds. She was teaching at a school where hard evidence of parent contacts counted towards her teacher evaluation scores. Maia’s note: Not a sufficient reason to be in touch with families, but certainly a helpful motivator! Additionally, Claire sometimes faced tricky parent situations that required formal documentation. Claire’s Google survey form contained dropdowns for:

  • All student names —  she was not spending a lot of time TYPING into a spreadsheet.
  • Reason for, Type of and Date of Contact —  again, this saved her loads of typing!
  • Claire also noted these added advantages in using Google Survey —  time stamps, accessibility across  many devices, and shared logons by multiple teachers. The platform even graphs whom she calls the most so she can easily see which parents she needs to be in better touch with.

2. Google Voice. Getting a Google Voice number allows you to pick the times you want student or parent calls to ring (or not ring). Additionally, calls and texts are all logged automatically. Claire says,

“I highly recommend Google Voice for parent contact, because it logs everything for you, including texts. The bane of my existence last year was that all my parents preferred texting, so I was logging text message conversations into my tracker. This was too much extra work! The question became: sometimes there would be 20 messages from 1 parent in 1 day, how do you log that? If you give the parent a Google Voice number, it’s all saved and your personal number stays private.”

There is even a transcription service for incoming voicemails!

3. Plain old paper and pencil. As several teachers noted in our blog comments, old fashioned paper and pencil work equally well. Here were a few helpful comments:

“I currently write down all records of parent contact on an individual student log – I made one for each student. I record the date, nature of the contact, and the parent response.”

“I have an emergency contact information sheet for each child in my class. At the bottom, I note the date & a brief note every time I make a phone call or send a note… ”

Another great Together Trick might be to keep a family contact binder with a page for each student, organized alphabetically.

As with any system, we are neutral about which tools you use. We just want you to have something in place to plan, record, and follow-up with your students’ families.

Reminder–Together Teacher ContestHow do you track and document family contact? Please limit your reply to 300 or fewer words and include your first name and last initial. Three randomly selected teachers will receive free access to Dash4Teachers through iTunes.

Enter for your chance to win by Thursday, November 9!