Parent Communication: Setting Boundaries & Limits

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Starista, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. Starista

    Starista Cohort

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    Dec 17, 2012

    My school, like most, is proud to offer a "state of the art" technology program.

    Our children can take AR tests, use the PCs for math/literacy stations, webquests, and other wonderful educational games/activities. My second graders have access to every textbook and workbook online through our school's website. All of these are wonderful ways to enrich and supplement their learning experience.

    Like most teachers of 2012 I use technology daily as a key part of my presentations during instructional time. I update grades on our school's online grade book (which the parents can access too) and update my classroom's website weekly.

    What I want to talk about is email.

    The use of email as a communication tool between parents and teachers is convenient and easy.

    When I was in school, if my mother wanted to contact my teacher, she would have to find paper and pen. Then she'd have to sit down to write a letter, fold it and ask me to put it in my backpack. That took time!

    2012 Parents can simply fire up their email on their iPhones while in line at the grocery store.

    As a school we have a 48 hour policy to return parent emails. I used to have my school email on my iPhone for convenienece.

    I realize now that having my school email on my phone was the same as getting a text message as I'd get an alert as soon as a parent emailed me. I would usually try to reply at that time no matter what else I was doing. This was 100% my fault but I had no idea how much it would bother me.

    While trying to make my work life easier, I was making myself too accessible!

    This was bumping into my family time way too much! So I have taken it off my phone and resign myself to only checking school email 2x a day (Before school & after school).

    Of course now I worry that I will be looked upon as a mediocre teacher with regard to parent communication. But, while I cherish and adore my students, my teacher hat is taken off at 4 and I quickly don my wife-and-mommy hat.

    My parents' generation survived without this much communication. I can too.

    Thanks for reading,

    A Happy Mom and Teacher trying to Find that Balance!
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Dec 17, 2012

    I think that it's unreasonable for anyone, including parents, to expect teachers to be accessible at all times. Like you, I respond to parent emails only during my workday. I don't think that makes me a mediocre teacher. I think that all it means is that I have outlined some professional limits. I would never allow parents to show up to my home in the middle of the night to discuss grades or behavior; to me, the email thing is no different. A parent can wait until the next school day for a response. That's reasonable.
     
  4. Starista

    Starista Cohort

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    Dec 17, 2012

    Yes! I whole heartedly concur!

    I am so glad I took school email off my phone and only check it at work.

    Thanks for the encouragement!
     
  5. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Dec 17, 2012

    Is there an option in your e-mail that will automatically send the parents a message that you have received their e-mail and that you will get back to them within 48 hours.
     
  6. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Dec 18, 2012

    I did something similar too- put my school email on my cell phone so I could be on top of everything every single moment. And I hated it. Parents slowly started getting annoyed (and complaining to the P) if I didn't respond right away- we have a 24-48 hour rule at my school.

    I stopped doing all of that this school year- I update my class only while I'm in school. I'll check email during the evening once or twice to see if there's a quick question I can answer, but if it's something that requires more time and thought then I'll wait until the next day and answer it in the morning or at lunch time. I don't touch emails over the weekend- I'll only respond to faculty emails. And if I have plans during the evening or weekend, I'll tell students "You or your parents can email me, but don't expect a respond because I won't be around my computer" and they've always have been okay with it :)
     
  7. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Dec 18, 2012

    I keep my email open in a tab on my iPad so I check it regularly at home. I often respond during "off times", but I don't feel compelled to. It's really been appreciated by parents over the years. Of course, I've had some to email on Saturday and write again Sunday with something like, "I haven't heard back from you..." Really? Ugh.
     
  8. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Dec 18, 2012

    Because I don't have a classroom phone, I often use my cell phone to make calls to parents (with some "firsties," it's best to call mom/dad/grandma right when something happens, to nip it in the bud). I have had a couple of parents over the years to email, but they are few and far between. I don't really mind if a parent calls me or texts me on my phone (as long as it doesn't become a problem). I'd rather have the open lines of communication (not always easy in my school environment). I have a friend who did this and was basically stalked. I have been blessed so far, I think.
     
  9. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Dec 19, 2012

    I have my email on my iPod, but I will not answer parent mails outside of contract time.
     
  10. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    Dec 19, 2012

    I have my email on my phone. Depending what the email is about is whether I email them back right then and there or do I wait until it's business hours. At school my email is on a tab all day long so I can check it anytime I have a few a minutes. At school I usually don't respond right away unless it's just a quick response needed. I have a set of parents this year that totally stalked their kid's teacher last year. She gave them her phone number and they would call at all hours of the day and night about stuff. I refused to give them my personal number. They do however stalk me at school. I have literally had to hide from these parents. They come to my room every morning and will stay there until I have to get the kids from the gym. Don't get my wrong if it was something legitimate I would be glad to speak with them. Most of the time it's about stuff that just doesn't make any sense or they all ready know the answers.
     

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