This post is sponsored by TextNow
After spending so long learning virtually, being back in school is a welcome change. Kids are adjusting to the new normal of in-person learning during a pandemic and settling into familiar routines. As parents, we’re relieved. We’re so glad our kids are in the presence of caring and capable educators which is why now is a great time to start communicating with your child’s teacher.
3 Tips for Communicating with Your Child’s Teacher
While elementary parents tend to be most involved, it’s just as important for middle and high school families to create lines of communication with teachers. Creating a home-school connection via relationship-focused communication contributes to academic success.
As a former elementary teacher but current middle school teacher and mom of teens, I know how important it is to connect with my kids’ teachers. The truth is teachers of students at all grade levels want to hear from families.
Here are 3 tips for communicating with your child’s teacher to ensure a successful school year.
Start with an Introductory Email
Teachers love meeting parents but let them settle into their school year first. About a month into the school year is a good time to take a few minutes to send an email to say hello and introduce yourself.
Your email doesn’t have to be long. You can begin communicating with your child’s teacher by including these four things:
- Your name and the name of your child
- The class and period your child is in (especially important for middle and high school students)
- Any positive feedback about the class from your child
- How to contact you
Since it always helps my middle school students to see an example, here’s a sample email that you can copy and paste and personalize before sending to your child’s teacher.
Dear Ms. Barr,
My name is Suzy and my son, John, is in your 3rd period computer science class. He has really enjoyed your class so far, especially the spaghetti and marshmallow towers he made to learn the engineering design process.
It sounds like the year is off to a great start but please don’t hesitate to email me if you have any questions. You can also reach me via cell at 202-867-5309. Thanks!
Have Concerns? Use the Feedback Sandwich
Sending an introductory email like the one above is key for opening lines of communication. It’s often easier to address difficult topics if you’ve established a relationship first but sometimes things come up that you need to address right away.
When that happens, use the Feedback Sandwich!
The Feedback Sandwich begins and ends with positive feedback and includes negative feedback in the middle. It’s a great strategy for communicating with your child’s teacher!
An email that uses the Feedback Sandwich approach looks like this:
Dear Ms. Barr,
Thanks for the great start to the school year! John has enjoyed working on his app and comes home to share his ideas with us. We love hearing about what he’s learning!
Even though he’s excited about your class, he is having trouble concentrating. He wants to do his best in your class but finds those around him to be distracting. He’s talked to us about wanting to change his seat, but we were wondering if he’s mentioned this to you. If you have a minute tomorrow, can you find time to talk to him about this?
Thanks for your help! Feel free to email or call 202-867-5309 anytime.
Could you tell that in this email, the parent was concerned about behavior issues of the students in the class that sit around John?
Let’s analyze the example above:
- The email started out in a positive way with the first paragraph being highly complementary.
- The second paragraph addressed concerns about student behavior issues in class. However, no names were mentioned, and the parent only discussed them as they related to John. The parent also provided helpful insight to the teacher about John’s concerns that the teacher might not have picked up on yet in class.
- The third paragraph is short and sweet and reiterates how open the parent is to hearing from the teacher
The Feedback Sandwich model can be used to send a teacher an email about anything. It’s a more positive and constructive way to send concerns about your child or the class. The same model can be used to email school administrators, counselors, or other school staff.
Respect the Teacher Work Day
As a classroom teacher, I know how easy it is for work to creep into my personal time and take time away from my responsibilities as a parent. Help your child’s teacher preserve their time outside school by being respectful of their time and understanding they might not be able to get back to you immediately.
Since teachers spend their day in their classroom focused on their students, it’s difficult to respond to emails and calls during the school day. Staff meetings, planning, and other responsibilities take up teacher time before and after school so they might not be able to respond to your email the same day. Show grace when communicating with your child’s teacher.
While I prefer to make calls home from a dedicated phone line from inside my school so the caller ID displays my middle school’s name, it’s not always possible to do so.
This year I’m relying on my TextNow number to help me communicate with parents.
I shared my number with parents during my Back to School night virtual presentation. I let parents know texting me through this number was an option but established expectations regarding responses. I told them this was a great communication tool to use within the parameters of the school day and to be patient with responses, especially at the start of the year.
By downloading the TextNow app to my smartphone (available for iOS or Android ), I created a real phone number to call and text families for free from my existing smartphone. This helps me preserve the privacy of my personal home and cell number but provides an easy way to communicate.
Earlier this week I got a text from a parent with a question.
The text popped up just like any text on my phone. The notification sounded different than texts to my regular number which helped me distinguish it from a text to my personal number. I opened the TextNow app to read it and respond.
If the text or a phone call had come in through my TextNow number beyond the work day, I rely on my phone’s Do Not Disturb feature to preserve personal and family time!
Even though I’ve only gotten a handful of school-related calls and texts through my TextNow number, I know parents appreciate having a way to reach me. I’m glad that they’re respectful of my time and limit interactions to the school day.
As a parent, I’m taking my own advice about communicating with my child’s teacher. I’m introducing myself, mindful of using the Feedback Sandwich model for future communication, and exercising grace in responses as I respect the teacher work day.
TextNow’s mission is to bring people exceptional phone service for free, or as close to free as possible. TextNow’s app lets you call or text for free over WiFi. By downloading the TextNow app to your smartphone or tablet, or creating an account right from your desktop machine, you can get a real phone number to call and text for free.
This post was sponsored by TextNow but all opinions are my own.