Communication with your child’s teacher is an essential part of the teacher-parent partnership that helps to give your child a successful academic experience. Some years you may communicate on a daily basis and other years periodically, but either way, these tips will help to make your communication experience a good one.
Find out at the beginning of the year the teacher’s preferred method of communication. This is often different for each teacher and can even vary by school district. Knowing this information will help you get the response you need in a timely manner.
These are the most common means of communication with teachers:
Telephoning the school: You can call the school office to speak with your child’s teacher. Most often, your child’s teacher will not be available, due to being in class, and a message will be taken. The message sometimes is placed in a teacher’s box often in the office, emailed to them, or taken to his or her classroom. This method is best if you do not need a response right away. Most teachers return phone calls during their planning periods, lunch, or after school since they cannot do it while students are in the classroom. If your child’s teacher already has commitments scheduled during this time, it could mean a response the next day.
Telephoning the classroom: Some schools have direct lines to the classrooms for parents to call. This helps your message go directly to the teacher; however, teachers have to wait until the students are not in the classroom to return phone calls. This means your call will often go to voice mail. Depending on when your child’s teacher checks his or her voice mail, it could mean waiting until the end of the day or until the next day for a response.
Sending a note to school with your child: This is a great way to communicate with your child’s teacher if you need them to get a message first thing in the morning. If it’s a note simply saying your child needs to ride a different bus home, explanation of late homework, etc. this is a great method to use. It also works for letting the teacher know if your child had a hard time sleeping the night before, a pet ran away, etc. This is a way that the teacher will see anything that may need to be known right at the beginning of the day. If it’s an in depth letter that addresses a crisis (such as a relative’s death), a visit would be better. The only downside with this method is if the letter doesn’t make it to the teacher. Sometimes the child forgets to give the note to the teacher until the end of the day when backpacks are being packed or not until the next day.
Emailing the teacher: This is an excellent way to communicate with your child’s teacher if you need a response right away. Many teachers these days check their email multiple times throughout the day. They can also respond even while students are in the classroom if it only requires a quick response. One downside with email is that some districts’ antispam software can send some emails into the junk mail folder if it doesn’t recognize the address. This means your email may not be seen. If you’ve sent an email to your child’s teacher and have not received a response within a day, send a note to school the next day with your email address. Your child’s teacher can add it to her address book or check for your message in her junk mail folder. The good news is once your email is in your child’s teacher’s address book it will not go to the junk mail folder again.
In person before or after school: Use this method for anything that only requires about a minute to discuss. These two times are often the busiest times of the day for teachers. They are finishing up preparations for the school day, heading out to bus duty, talking with students, heading to or coming from meetings, etc. If you need longer than a minute and want to talk to the teacher in person, consider setting up a time with the teacher when he can give you his full attention.
Telephoning at home: It’s best only to use this method if your child’s teacher passes out her phone number and says it’s okay to call her at home. If she does, this is a great way to clarify homework assignments, ask questions about that day at school, or inquire about the next school day.
Conference: A formal conference is arranged when a phone call, note, or email will not be enough. This is usually reserved for academic, social, or behavioral concerns; although, conferences can also be scheduled for other reasons as well. Sometimes the parent asks for a conference and other times the teacher asks. Many schools offer the traditional parent-teacher conference for all the students sometime during the school year.