1. That’s my oven…
When making parent phone calls, it is easy to get caught up in chatting about everything from their children to the weather. You plan for a quick talk, and the next time you check your watch it has been 45 minutes! As teachers, it is so easy to do. After all- this is our passion! I know I could talk for hours and never even know it. (I am also a talker, so there is that…). Also, the reason we make phone calls in the first place is because working parents are often not available during our office hours, and some things we can’t just talk about over email. So we end up calling from home. Don’t get me wrong- I am happy to do so. In order to best serve my “kids”, I will gladly take some time out of my day to be able to connect with parents when I have their complete attention and cooperation. But I also can’t spend 45 mins. on the phone either. So over the years I have found a full proof plan. The oven! Set the timer for your desired amount of time you are willing to give to the conversation. Make the call and start the time. When the alarm goes off, simply say- “Oh- that’s my oven… I have to run”. Parents can’t keep talking over a beeping alarm…
2. Designated parent phone call template
I also have developed a phone call template that I have in my classroom as well as at home. After I finish a phone call, I immediately take notes on what was covered. I then place them in my record keeping binder. Taking detailed notes on phone calls and in class meetings are incredibly important. Having documentation of any interaction with parents covers you in case there is an issue brought up in any area. I have used this most frequently when I have a parent that insists they weren’t aware of something, and also when tracking behavioral concerns. To get a copy of my phone call template, click here.
3. Address labels
These have saved me SO much time in transcribing/doing double work! Just like above, having anecdotal documentation is imperative when tracking children throughout the year. I will jot down both kind and concerning behaviors. I keep about 5 sheets of labels at a time on a clipboard that I can take anywhere with me. I jot down the information throughout the day, and then when I have time, I peel the labels off of the clipboard and stick them onto designated paper in my record keeping binder. (At the beginning of the year I place 4 sheets of blank red paper under each person’s tab in my record keeping binder. That way I can just stick the labels on to the paper when I am ready.) If you would like the template I use, click here. It is compatible with these Avery products. 15664, 18664, 45464, 48264, 48464, 48864, 5164, 5264, 55164, 5524, 55264, 55364, 55464, 5664, 58164, 58264, 8164, 8254, 8464, 8564, 15264, 95940, 95905
4. Folders in your inbox
Email is another form of communication that can get unruly real quick. The first thing I do at the start of the year is create a folder for each of my students. I also set up my account to BCC myself on my communication. Every time I get an email from a parent, I immediately send it to their student’s file. That way, you always have a running record of all communication from all parties in chronological order, and it makes it really easy to search for something should you ever need to. Once again- having all documentation handy and accessible takes the stress out of any issues that might arise.
5. Using a tool that you can access from anywhere
Having your parent information accessible from anywhere is invaluable. You never know when you will need to reach out to families. I always hated being out and about, or in the staff lounge, have something enter my head, and then not be able to act on it right away. Because we all know what happens… you get distracted with your shopping, you get pulled into somewhere else, or you simply loose that train of thought. Then you are sitting at your desk- trying desperately to remember what it was that you wanted to convey. This day and age everything is in the palm of your hand. I used to put all of my parents phone numbers into my contact list, but hated that it cluttered up my personal contacts. I also had access to my email on my phone- but I hated the way it worked. There are lots of different apps now that you can download to help with organization, and even specific to the classroom. I have tried many, but have ended up with Bloomz. It encompasses everything I need to be able to reach parents quickly and effectively. It organizes parent messages just like my email used to- without me having to do the set up work. I can send updates to the whole class, groups, or individuals easily. And it has so many other bonuses to help with organization of different areas of my teaching life. Bloomz easily manages calendars, volunteers, events, and even parent teacher conference sign ups. It will also send out reminders so parents don’t forget, a huge organization bonus! To check out Bloomz, visit www.bloomz.net.