Do you respond to parent emails over break?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by TrademarkTer, Feb 18, 2018.

  1. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Feb 18, 2018

    We are on break until Thursday.

    Yesterday evening I received an email from a parent who emails me very frequently, and is rather needy (and sometimes a little rude). The email was basically a nothing-burger email just asking me how her daughter was doing in my class (she knows very well how her daughter is doing---I post the grades online the same day they take the assessment so no one has to wait around for feedback from me....ever.)

    I am very Type A about responding to emails almost immediately as I know it annoys me when people take forever to respond/don't respond, but I am debating if I should respond to this email now, or wait until Thursday when I am back in school. Part of me wants to wait out of principle since it is break (and I don't want to encourage more emails from this parent), but it also kills me on the inside waiting LOL.

    Do you ever respond to emails over break?
     
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  3. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    I don't. I am someone who works a ton beyond working hours but I don't want parents to think I am reachable 24/7 so even if I write the email during a break, I only send/ reply to emails during regular working hours. With a parent like this I might consider adding an auto-reply/out of the office to my email when I go in on Monday for the future - saying I only reply during working hours.

    In 15ish years, I've broken this rule once. I had a student email in a panic about an assignment and knew the impact not replying would have on the student/family so I replied and said - how lucky you are, I never check my email on the weekend but just happened to today so this one time I can reply to your email - here's my reply. I won't be back online before Monday. See you at school.
     
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  4. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I sometimes respond to emails outside of working hours - but it depends who the email is from and what the purpose of the email is. With a parent like the one you described, I'd wait it out.
     
  5. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    I would pretend it is on my work computer, that I haven't accessed during the break, and then answer after break without any apology as to why it wasn't an immediate reply. If you think about it, an apology for something that is scheduled, such as the break, makes the parent appear idiotic. They may be, but it is poor manners to point it out. ;)
     
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  6. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    Feb 18, 2018

    Fix a auto-reply...
    "I hope you are having a wonderful break like I am. I will return emails in a timely manner once I'm back at school. If this is a real emergency, hang up and dial 9-1-1." OK... not the 9-1-1 part. ;)
     
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  7. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    It depends on the parent. Most don't email or anything. If it was a needy parent, I would definitely wait.
     
  8. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    As a general rule, no, but I do make exceptions depending on the situation.
     
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  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 18, 2018

    Nope.
     
  10. JimG

    JimG Comrade

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    Feb 18, 2018

    Simple fix: don’t check your work email while away from work.
     
  11. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Also a general rule of no, though I could imagine exceptions.
     
  12. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    No, I don't respond to parent emails over break. The only reason I check my work mail during break is because I have my grad school emails forwarded to my work email. Those breaks don't line up.
     
  13. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I'm in my 8th year of teaching and I've finally wised up enough to just not check email over breaks. I will typically check the night before we go back, just because I don't like surprises, but I don't check during the rest of the break or during weekends anymore.

    Previously, I would find myself checking just to "make sure there's nothing important there." Well, that only works as an anxiety relieving tactic if there actually is nothing there! Then, like you I'd feel the need to respond right away or it would bother me. It's really better to just not check in the first place.

    I wouldn't respond to the parent, because then you're setting yourself up for being on call 24/7 in the future. I also agree with the suggestion to put an automated out of office reply on your email for future breaks.
     
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  14. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    Feb 18, 2018

    I see no problem answering work emails over my break. I actually enjoy responding to people who contact me!
     
  15. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I read emails over break, but very rarely reply to them. For example, this week I sent 2 emails to all parents that we would have school Mon. I told the students several times (middle schoolers) I reminded them on Fri. A parent texted me to ask if there is school Mon. I did not reply.
     
  16. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    Bwahahahahaha!
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2018
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  17. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I find that responding to emails while not in school just adds to the neediness of the parents. I seem to have to train the parents and the students each year to accept responsibility and not depend upon the teacher to solve all their problems.
     
  18. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Phenom

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    This is a very valid point. However, I LOVE interacting with parents — I find it very enjoyable. Maybe I’m weird, but I love answering parent and staff emails.
     
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  19. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Nope
     
  20. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I can appreciate this comment. I also enjoy communicating with parents, which is why I have a job keeping the same student for several years. I do enjoy the relationships we develop over the years.
    However, a pet peeve of mine is not accepting people (students or parents) who expect me to be their personal secretary. When my own children were young, we had a wall calendar in the kitchen. All important school dates and notes were placed on the calendar. I had no excuse to not knowing what was going on and neither should my parents now.
     
  21. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    Feb 18, 2018

    I check my email several times during a break. But I also use classdojo so parents can text me anytime. I pride myself in the fact that I have great communication with my parents. Although this can backfire. Case in point. This very weekend. I took Friday off to attend a family get together out of town. As my husband and I sat down to dinner I decided just to check my dojo messages (I have the notifications off) Normally there is nothing there, but I got a new little one a few weeks ago and the class is just different animal since then Anyway to make a long story short I spent about 20 minutes texting two sets of parents trying to calm them down. This is a very very rare incident. Sometimes being this easy to contact does take time away from family.
    p.s. i know i could have put down the phone but it was a pretty serious situation that I felt needed to be taken care of.
     
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  22. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I have gone so far as to take my school email off of my phone. Much less an issue.
     
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  23. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    This. I respond at all times of the day and all days of the week (I've been known to do an e-mail first thing when I woke up or right before going to bed - ha), but carve boundaries if it is necessary. Plus, when responding too quickly might mean my response isn't thought out enough or too reactionary, it's better I wait.
     
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  24. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    When my son was little he was in Cub Scouts. I was a Den leader and my husband was Cub Master. We had this one Mom who wanted her hand held for everything. She wanted phone call reminders. She would get upset if we didn't call her back. She finally got mad at me when I told her that I was not her secretary.

    I also worked for a principal who was very much "She is an adult. She needs to remember." type of person.
     
  25. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I respond my email frequently and efficiently DURING MY CONTRACTED HOURS. I don't respond while on break- I have this week off. I'm not anticipating any parent emails nor will I be answering any.
     
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  26. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I use Remind to keep in touch with my parents and students (few have email but almost everyone has a cell phone), and I have checked that account a few times in case students had questions about homework I sent out over the long weekend. Thankfully, I sent out a message well in advance not to send students to school on Friday or today, or else I'd get messages asking why our front door is locked.
     
  27. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I can't imagine having to tell parents that school is closed. Do these people not have access to a calendar? What tragedy befell parents before teachers held hands so much? Before email and cellphones?
     
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  28. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Good question! I make sure every new student, along with the accompanying parent or guardian, gets at least two paper copies of the school calendar. It's also available online on the school's website.
     
  29. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Seriously? How do these people cope when you arent holding their hands?
     
  30. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I have to bear in mind that many of my kiddos have a state of implied helplessness because they've failed at least a couple of classes or have left school completely before coming to my school. A lot of them have blown off tests and exams for so long, it is more natural to them than being an active partner in their own education. It's a similar problem for those parents who were not held accountable for their role in their child's education until I started texting and calling on a regular basis.

    My hope with being online and available outside of my office hours is that the families with whom I work will start remembering to make their homes an additional center of learning.
     
  31. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Or are you enabling their helplessness? Something I struggle with.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
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  32. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    It's a choice I struggle with. I will do everything I can to get them into school. I won't let them cut corners on their testing and assignments. If they decide to do that, we have a tough conversation where I explain how they have set their own graduation back by at least six months.
     
  33. Camel13

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    I would rather reply to any emails so that I don't lie awake at night thinking about them. It bugs me how my fellow teachers will not respond to emails even during the week. I would rather my parents and students know they are a priority and that I care about each and every one of them. I rarely do get emails, but get an immensely favorable response when I reply promptly. Being a parent myself with a child in a different school, I appreciate the value of a quick response! Of course there are times I would rather not reply to an annoying parent but I feel better getting it out of the way in that case too.
     
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  34. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I think there are always room for exceptions, depending on personality and/or events, but I strongly disagree with the notion that everyone must be accessible 24/7. I think it sets unrealistic expectations and unhealthy work/life balance.
     
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  35. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    No. I have done it both ways.
    1. Parents depend on you to give information, which as stated by others, is available from other sources.
    2. Parents depend on you to give special treatment. (How did Jim fare on his test today? Well, I'm in the middle of grading everything, so do I need to pull his out and just grade it? No, I just don't answer those.)
    3. Parents absolve their children of being responsible for information when I am answering emails throughout weekends or breaks.
    4. Good communication does not need to be fast communication. Good communication needs to have good content.
    5. My family deserves to have my attention uninterrupted.
    6. As to texting, I do not use any of the apps that allow for that. I only use official school email for communication as I feel all communications between the home and the school should be official rather than something in a text.
    7. In the beginning of the year, I do check and respond for the first few weeks until all are acclimated to the school's procedures. Thereafter, they can read my autoresponder which says that I read and respond during the next day school is in session.
     
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  36. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I don't lay awake over needy parents
     
  37. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Maybe that's the difference. I care about my students' parents just as I care about the grocery clerk down the road. The substitute mailman. The guy who sprays for mosquitoes in my neighborhood each summer. I care about them because they are people. We share affection for the same children and we have (usually) a common goal. But I don't need to care about them on an individual level to do my job well. I definitely do not need to respond quickly to their emails to do my job well. Their children are my priority and sometimes (SOMETIMES) responding to parent emails is a way that I can serve my students better. Sometimes parent emails are about the parents themselves.

    One time I got an urgent email (followed quickly by two more) from a parent wanting to know her son's test score from that afternoon. She and her husband were at a car lot about to buy the kid a new car and which one they bought depended upon the grade he got. No way in hell was I going to reply to those.
     
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  38. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    In the end, I think we can agree that a prompt response (defined as within one work day, or so) is expected. Beyond that, some people may answer quicker, some may answer outside of work hours, but that it's equally okay to follow the basic guidelines.

    Just as it's important to have our own classroom management system that follows our style as teachers, it's important that we follow our style in terms of the other elements, so long as it meets the minimum requirements set by the district (i.e. 1 work day).
     
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  39. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    It amazes me. I send home a calendar in list form and typical calendar form for the whole year. There is also a copy in the handbook. There are downloads available on the web. The lunch menu is printed on a calendar. SMH. It leaves me speechless sometimes!
     
  40. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    This is why we have breaks. If you come in early, work through lunch and stay past 5 p.m., and come in on weekends...:confused: IMO you are already going above and beyond. I personally think the computer has forced all educators to work twice as hard, as I can't print pictures and bought a new printer!! It is irritating when you are trying to get assessments done and the network is slower than molasses in February during lunch break/prep time. You almost have to work at home on your personal computer to get anything done these days.

    I digress...

    Working from home is a choice. Answering parent emails should be non-negotiable. You are off. No calls, emails, and if they live in the neighborhood, NO unexpected home visits, no long conversations in the grocery store. An email from your boss/district is different. She/he may say there is a blizzard and you won't be starting back on 4/2. If you are out of town, that's important because by the time you get back, you will probably haul your behind in the snow to an empty building. Telephone trees don't always work, because somebody may forget to call you.

    You are entitled to time off to refresh and renew yourself. If you don't do this, you will surely burn yourself out.
     
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  41. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    For some, it's a choice that actually makes their job better for them. It's important not to burn out, but at the same time, you have to do what's right for yourself - and that might include responding to e-mails while away.
     

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