Parent Phone Calls

Discussion in 'General Education' started by JustMe, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Sep 25, 2010

    So, the other thread got met thinking...here are some questions I have:

    When do you make parent phone calls? Planning, during class, in the couple of hours after school, or the evenings? Would you ever call on the weekend? I call during planning or immediately after school. I feel that past five is their time.

    What ratio of positive phone calls to negative phone calls do you make? I send more positive emails and (Vista Print!) post-cards than positive phone calls. In fact, the majority of my communication is written because our parents are very difficult to contact...sorry, this number is no longer in service. I've been making some positive calls in the past couple of days to my last year's families to report awesome news with the state scores. I had some students make big jumps. But that's not my point. I would imagine it's pretty even, as far as positive and negative phone calls...maybe slightly more negative phone calls because of our school's behavior plan.

    PARENTS: For negative information, which form of communication do you prefer? Phone calls so you can fully discuss the matter with the teacher? Is that different from your preferred method for positive comments? How late is too late to receive any type of phone call from a teacher? What if a teacher called you on Saturday?

    Other thoughts?
     
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  3. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I work part-time, so I don't have a planning period (although I usually go in a couple of hours early and use that time as "planning").

    So far, I've only made 1 parent call and that was to inform a parent I would be offering tutoring after school beginning the next afternoon. She and her kids just moved to our area and her daughter was absent the day I sent the letter home regarding the tutoring sessions. I called when I finished in the after-school program, which was about 4:30pm.

    If I decide to try Harry Wong's advice about beginning the year with a positive phone call, I will most likely make those calls between 4:30-5:30pm. If I get an answering machine, that is fine. I'm just calling to give the parents a brief message anyway.

    I have the kids right down their address and contact info on index cards (a tip my CT showed me), so I have the phone number for most parents at my fingertips. But I would probably check the big "contact info book" in the office before making the calls just to make sure some of the parents are NOT asleep in the afternoon before going to work later that night. I would also check for email addresses and see if the parents listed a preference for contact. Unless specifically requested by a parent, I don't think I would ever call later than 6:00pm (I sometimes work till 5:30pm in the after school job).

    As a parent, I prefer a note in the planner or email unless it is an urgent matter. Last year, I got a call at school (during the middle of my class while doing ST) about an issue with my son at his school. In that case, it WAS an issue that needed to be discussed with the principal right then, so I didn't mind having my schedule interrupted. But if I had been called to the office to receive a call telling me my son didn't have his homework that day, I would have been very upset and would have let the other teacher know that in a very professional, but also very clear, manner.

    If my son has missed MORE than one assignment (especially within the same week), then YES, it will be fine to call and tell me about that because it is developing into a pattern and needs to be stopped now. Otherwise, a note in his planner will suffice. I ask each boy every day if they have homework and I also check their planners when they get home. If there is a note in there, then the boys are going to owe me an explanation for the work or assignment they have missed.
     
  4. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    I make my calls home either during my planning time in the morning or after school. Sometimes I get a hold of the parent but most of the time I get voice mail (assuming of course that I have a working number, which often I do not).

    One of my goals this year is to make at least 2 positive phone calls for different students each month. We are also required by our principal to mail home 3 "good news" post cards each month.
     
  5. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    I try to make them at school, before I leave... so usually before 4. If it's something super-important that I absolutely HAVE to discuss with them, I will call around 7 pm (from my phone) to make sure I get to talk with them.

    I'd never call a parent on the weekends - as much as I feel that's "my" time away from work, that's their time with their families.
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 25, 2010

    I don't make a lot of phone calls.

    Our classes run in the high 30's/low 40's. I teach 4 geometry classes, 5 SAT prep classes, a study hall and a homeroom. That's close to 400 kids. And I'm one of their 9 periods a day. There's potential for an awful lot of phone calls there.

    I do call when there's a pattern developing. So when a kid fails his second test of the marking period, it's a pattern.

    On Meet the Teacher night, I give parents my testing schedule for the year. I tell them to expect a grade within 2 days of that test date. (Before I had kids, it was the next day) So some of those phone calls are unnecessary simply because I'm organized. My parents also know my policy on missing homework-- that sometimes "life gets in the way" and that my kids are allowed to miss (then make up for full credit) up to 3 assignments per marking period.

    Of course, I do return phone calls or emails immediately. And we have parent conferences 4 times a year, in addition to Meet the Teacher night, so there's lots of potential face time there. We request a conference with any kid whose average is a D or an F, but will talk with anyone who shows up.

    If a kid is showing improvement after our chat, I'll call mom or dad and let them know that.

    But, honestly, by the time a kid is in high school, his education is starting to become his responsibility. So I don't think mom and dad need a phone call from me each time a student gets a little overwhelmed. I think my kids deserve the opportunity to sort it out themselves before I call in for reinforcements.

    As to my own 3 kids, I've received phone calls from school on these occasions:
    - when Brian got red paint on his shirt in Kindergarten. His teacher wanted me to know it wasn't blood when I saw it. (We LOVED that teacher!)
    - from the same teacher when Brian followed a friend's suggestion and helped flood the boy's room. (She said, very carefully that "Brian needs to stop and think before he follows the suggestions of others.")
    - from the nurse whenever one of the kids has a headache, stomach ache or whatever, whether or not they need to be picked up.
    - From the nurse the time the Kindergarten teacher (a different one) marked Kira absent and they thought she was MIA. The Assistant Principal got someone to cover my class, I returned the call, and got someone to go check the class.Kira was sitting there.

    I don't ever recall getting a "Your child is doing fine" phone call. I expect them to do fine. I get at least weekly feedback from most of the teachers on how they're doing.
     
  7. Starista

    Starista Cohort

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    Sep 25, 2010

    Good Morning!

    My new school requires that all homeroom teachers make a positive phone call the first week of school. Having only 14 3rd graders this was not a daunting task. I phoned some of them around 4 PM the Friday of the first full week of school and then saved the last 7 for Saturday around 11 AM.

    The phone calls were very brief and pleasant.

    While I did not mind doing it at all, I felt awkward around the 3 families who are not English Language speakers primarily, but tried as best I could to convey a positive message!

    One little boy... one of the families I phoned at 11 AM on Saturday was so funny. He answered the phone "HELLO WHO IS THIS?!" and I said "Hi, H. This is Mrs. W. Is your mom or dad at home?" He said "Mrs W?!?! Umm.. Dad is at work and mom's asleep. " In the middle of me saying "H, do NOT wake your mom..." I hear the phone drop and my student running, yelling "MOM MOM MOM WAKE UP THE TEACHER IS ON THE PHONE."

    It was a very brief convo and I felt so badly waking the poor lady up! :hugs:
     
  8. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I don't make phone calls at all. Email!

    I refuse to call from my cell phone - that is my only phone # and I really don't want parents to have it. The only other option where I am now is to go downstairs to the planning room where the ONE phone for teacher use is located. Since I barely have any planning time, it might be a few days before a parent gets a response. I make sure they know this - emails I can shoot off in between classes, during class if there is a test or something - phone calls have to planned into my already crammed 45 min schedule for planning. If you want an immediate response - EMAIL!
     
  9. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Sep 25, 2010

    I only make phone calls from school. Unless it's an emergency, I tend not to call parents at work; I'll leave a voice mail at home instead. (I started this a few years ago after one of my parents received a reprimand and a dock in pay when they accepted a call from me at work that was not an emergency--I was, and still am, mortified.) I wouldn't call a parent in the evening or on the weekend unless they requested it.
     
  10. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    I'm not sure about PA, but in FL, teachers' school emails are public property. I'd be very hesitant to email a child's grades, behavior issues, or other confidential information, knowing that my emails could be requested by any person at any time.
     
  11. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    If I can get reprimanded or in any sort of legal mess because I'm messaging a parent using my school-give email address about his or her child's education on the basis that someone else could request that information and thus leave me guilty of sharing confidential information...then I quit. Just screw it all. Simply the thought angers me. And probably because I know it's not outside of the realm of possibility.
     
  12. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Since my children attend school in the next state, I always try to email the teachers or P with any questions, comments or concerns I have. If the matter is urgent, I will call, but I usually don't need an answer or response immediately and I understand how busy they are. This has worked well, until a recent incident.

    When my son's come to my house, they are Parent Pickup. When they go to their mother's house, they ride the bus. To help the teacher's and staff keep this straight, I created a calendar showing exactly which dates they would be riding the bus and which dates they would be picked up. If there was a change in that schedule for any reason, I would call the homeroom teacher to let them know.

    This year, the principal of the middle school was actually a little "short" with me when I offered to do that and said that wasn't the best way to handle it, so I didn't do it. Then, a couple of weeks ago, their mother let the boys come home with me for a family reunion, so I sent an email to both school (my two oldest are in middle school and the youngest is in primary) telling them the boys would be picked up that Friday rather than riding the bus. The middle school principal was OK with that, but I got a snippy email from the Primary office telling me this should not have been handled through email. Then their mother told me she got a call from the office and the secretary (who made the call) was almost downright hateful about. The secretary kept saying "This should NOT have been handled in email." The odd thing is, I sent my usual calendar to that same Primary school last year and never had a problem with it.

    I just thought it was a little odd that the school office would pitch such a fit over getting an email when I was trying to work with them and it had been fine in the past.
     
  13. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Cerek, did they say why in the world this bothered them so? Are they afraid of not opening and processing emails in a timely manner and therefore require phone messages? Sheesh...a parent who actually tries to help everyone and you get this!
     
  14. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Probably during planning periods, but at our school the parents speak Spanish, and the teachers are from English-speaking countries, so the coordinators usually call the parents, and will translate, if needed, at meetings and conferences.
     
  15. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Yes, I think that was basically the secretary's main complaint - that they may have not seen and processed the email in time. They DID see it in time, but it is possible they could have missed it if they had been having a hectic day.

    Part of that IS my fault, because I didn't send the email until Thursday evening and we were picking the boys up Friday afternoon. I'm sure she is also concerned that I would "pitched a fit" if they did miss the email and put my son on the bus. I wouldn't have, but I'm sure other parents probably would (and have).

    Their mom told me she just sends a text to this teacher and I do remember the teacher saying she preferred text messages when possible. But I don't have her cell phone number because my ex got all the paperwork from Meet the Teacher. Still, I can get it from the school or the teacher herself.

    I was also kind of surprised the middle school principal objected to the calendar. The first two years I did that, the teachers and secretary's were thrilled that I took the time to actually print out a full calendar for them.

    Oh well, live and learn.

    I have since sent emails to my middle son's teachers AND principal about an unusual problem and made an unusual request as a solution. The teacher was very responsive and offer some good feedback. The principal also responded to my unusual request (which I had made before at the beginning of the year). He just said "I will work on it". Doesn't mean he will do it, and I understand if he doesn't, but I appreciate the fact he is willing to consider it.
     
  16. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    If they can't read the email you sent Thursday evening by Friday afternoon....sheesh!
     
  17. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    I agree with justme...we are expected to read our email at minimum 3x a day - before school, during planning or lunch and after school.

    I had a problem with my ms daughter's schedule this year, however, and the guidance counselor suggested we resolve it via email. 14 msgs later, no resolution. I went to the school and sat in the guidance office (taking a sub day for myself) and fixed it then and there, only to discover that, yes, the counselor had recieved ALL of my emails, but hadn't had the time to read ANY of them. In 2 weeks. As a matter of fact, I just got a response today to one I sent on August 31. That's just irresponsible.

    Anyway, back to original question. I once had a crazy parent who got my home phone number via caller ID and called me at all times of day/night (6 AM, noon, 8 PM, midnight....). Therefore, I only call from school. And will leave a msg at home rather than call a parent at work, unless it's an emergency.
     
  18. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    We have a new policy that all calls to parents should be made from school phones. This was explained as 'protecting teachers'.

    I make a call to the home of each of my students within the first two weeks of school to welcome families to third grade, invite them to back to school night and to relay that I'm so happy their children are in my class...goes A LONG way in building a supportive climate.
     
  19. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    I actually purchased an extra cell phone so that I could keep in close contact with parents without them having my personal number.

    With many of my students I had to deal with phones being disconnected, or "this person is not receiving calls" or leaving messages to never be returned, so I'd have to hunt down a grandparent on file or another adult relative on file to relay the message to the parent.

    I like Harry Wong but I'm not so sure about calling all parents the first week just to say something positive. I send home behavioral charts each day and write positive notes there, or also in the newsletter.
    I understand what he's saying though, but there are other ways to build positive communication.

    However, when I had to make the extremely negative phone calls, which was often, I always start with something positive about their child and then I end with something positive, even if the child just did something violent and defiant.
    I kept a gentle tone of voice as well.

    I've never had a parent to be offended, even the parents who were often hostile with the other teachers, they were very respectful and not defensive to my negative phone calls.

    Which was a relief, because I'm not so patient and forgiving if an adult is rude to me. I'm never nervous to call a parent either, even though I'm new, I have no jitters talking to them and that's a relief for me too.
     
  20. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I never made "preemptive" phone calls. Maybe it's because my main teaching experience is at the college level, I just never thought to do that. I did have one rather unruly class, when I was brand new to middle school (okay, it was in the middle of one of a very large city's worst neighborhoods....they were all unruly when I first got them). Anyway, this particular class wasn't responding like the other ones, so I told them that if anything else happened that day, I was calling ALL of their parents that night. I followed through. That class turned into the most well behaved angels after that day :D.

    As for my own kids, I let the school know they are to contact me ONLY by phone call. My kids screwed up not too long ago. They were throwing away notes sent home, so I had no clue anything was wrong. On top of them getting in major trouble, I just have the school call me for anything important. They also have my email, but I prefer phone calls, and they know it.
     
  21. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Because of my weird way of teaching, I contact the parents whenever I cannot reach the student, and I honestly don't care if it's during the school day or dinner time if I can reach a person who will help me hold the student accountable. The student and parents made the decision to continue education in as online, distance learning. There are wonderful positives to this environment but there are major responsibilities as well for all parties.

    If we're on Week Five of work and the student has handed in three assignments, I need to find out what is happening so I can adjust the curriculum or light a fire under someone's tush. Therefore, parents may get phone calls at work or at 8pm if I can't find them at more convenient times.

    Without the parents, I'm resting their child's education on a broken three-legged stool.
     
  22. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I've contacted parents at various times throughout the day: before school, during lunch, after school, evening, weekend. It truly depends on the situation.

    That said, I try to keep parent phone calls to a bare minimum!!!
     
  23. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Technically, most emails are about as secure as a post card, by the way. Anyone on any of the servers between the two end mail servers can read it.

    There are encryption techniques, but most email servers don't use them by default and most need to have both ends configured correctly to use them.
     
  24. SpecSub

    SpecSub Comrade

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    I think the calendar option would have been the best choice. It sounds like a lot for the school to keep track of via email. Particularly since the schools have to deal with things like sending out report cards and notes to non-custodial parents, and being aware of custody issues, etc., two-household families can create a lot of headaches. I hope I don't offend anyone, but there are some parents out there (not saying YOU cerek) who use the schools to handle things that parents should handle on their own if only they could put aside the angst and communicate with each other.

    If this continues to be a major problem, consider letting them ride the bus to their mother's house and picking them up there. It might be easier on you that way.
     
  25. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Going to her house - or more correctly, her new husband's house - isn't really an option. It's never been stated directly, but I'm sure I would not be allowed on his property. Even when she moved the kids into across the road from her mother, I was not allowed to come up the hill to "her place". I always had to meet her at the grandmothers'.

    But that's not really an issue. It was her weekend to have the boys and she was gracious enough to let them come with me to the family reunion. It is very rare for us to fight or even argue about the custody arrangement. I DO keep requesting more time with the boys and she keeps denying it, but that is the only real issue we have.

    We both realize these things come up. Her sister lives in PA and visits once a year. Invariably, it is during "my week" of the summer and I let them spend part of that time visiting their aunt, uncle and cousin that they rarely see. Then we "make up" that time later on.

    Neither of us try to use the school as a go-between or an unwitting middle man. That is precisely WHY I like to send the calendar, so they know up front exactly which weekends they are with each of us. Then neither can just show up and say "Oh, they are supposed to be with ME this week." If I ever did show up "unannounced" and asked to pick the boys up, I would fully expect the school to call the mom first to make sure she knew about it and agreed with it.

    Generally, the boys do a very good job keeping the teachers informed too. They know the schedule and always let their teachers know if they are being picked up or riding the bus. I just know some teachers are a little leery about trusting an 8 yr old when he says "I'm supposed to go to dad's this week and grandma will pick me up."

    Since the new teacher prefers text, I'll just find out her cell# and send her a text next time.
     
  26. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I realize this, and I realize that in my state our school emails are public record as well, but if this causes me problems...if me, doing my job and responding to parents' questions, concerns, and requests via email, puts me in a questionable place...that kills me! :mad:
     
  27. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    If I am needing to respond to a parent, I try to call during planning or after school, but I give them my home number and have talked to several from there. They work, just like me, and often are single parents. I'm not going to refuse to talk to them just because they aren't available during the day. However, if there is a problem with a child (cheating, etc), we call then. I dial, set the situation up, and then the child actually explains what they did. I don't do this often, but it is very effective.
     

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