I made it one of my professional goals to better communicate with parents this past school year. To this end, I decided to send out bi-weekly email updates to all parents (aside from the direct calls and emails). I chose to include the following in those emails:
- Updates on classroom lessons and activities
- Reasoning behind some of my classroom decisions
- Upcoming quiz or test dates
- Other important team or school dates/events
- A What You Can Do At Home tip
- Encouragement to reach out if there was a question or concern
- A closing thank you for parental support
Because I teach two sections, a standard 7th grade math class and an accelerated 7th grade math class, I wrote two emails each time. Two emails twice a month equals four emails each month. That's 40 for the year! But no big deal, I thought. Come to find out, it was more difficult than anticipated at times. Looking back, I think I put too much pressure on myself to make each email update absolutely fabulous. Sometimes, I couldn't think of a "good enough" What You Can Do At Home tip. Other times, due to vacation days or other interruptions, I felt that there wasn't enough fresh and exciting news to share. And then there was the time spent attaching pictures... ugh. Still, I completed my goal.
On average, 71% of my standard math class parents and 86% of my accelerated math class parents opened my emails (stat via MailChimp). Although I'd prefer 100% engagement, of course, I was pretty happy with those numbers. I was also thrilled to see that my emails prompted many parents to hit "reply" with a question or concern which increased two-way communication this past year. Lastly, I was happy to hear the positive response from a number of parents on their overall thoughts concerning the updates. One parent responded nearly every time with a simple "thank you so much for these emails" or "I wish I was in your class." That was nice to hear on those tough days.
I can undoubtedly state that I will continue this practice next year. I may, however, email parents every three weeks instead of every two so that overall they receive fewer but hopefully more meaningful and robust updates. I think that will allow me to take the pressure off a bit, too.
How do you communicate home? Have you done something similar? I'd love to hear your thoughts.