Communicating With Your Child’s Teacher

Some parents barely know the name of their child’s teacher, let alone their phone number of email address. Then, there’s an entire camp of moms and dads who have their child’s teacher on speed dial.

Which are you?

My daughter has only been in school for a year-and-a-half. She’s had one teacher who winced every time a parent stepped into her classroom.

Seriously; the woman would have been overjoyed if the students in her classroom were immaculately conceived by robots, so she wouldn’t have to deal with questions and concerns from parents. As for communicating, well, let’s just say it was easier trying to extract information about school events from my then 5-year-old, than from her 45-year-old teacher.

This year, my daughter has a different teacher, who is the polar opposite of the aforementioned educator. Mrs. W exercises an open door policy with parents—in practice, not just on paper. She communicates via emails; has her own teacher Web page, which is updated daily with information about class activities and upcoming events; and willingly fields questions at drop-off, pick-up and recess.

Basically, she’s the polar opposite of my daughter’s first teacher, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Communication is pivotal when it comes to parent-teacher relationships, but how much communication with a teacher is too much?

That’s the question being raised at a school in Washington State… and the answer is drawing national media attention.

Last month, Brookside Elementary–a public school in the Shoreline School District–sent a letter to parents informing them of a new rule in regards to emails to teachers. Concerned moms and dads would be forced to limit online communication with their child’s teacher to one email per week, maximum. What’s more, the emails could only address “important issues” and must be kept to “one paragraph only.”

Needless to say, Brookside parents were far from pleased about the school’s new policy. According to news reports, moms and dads inundated the school with complaints saying the new rule was “ridiculous.”

“I have a right to question a teacher or principal as much as I want,” one infuriated dad told news reporters. “There shouldn’t be a pre-set limit because you never know what kind of circumstances might come up.”

District officials responded by saying that with up to 30 kids in a classroom, teachers were being swamped by emails, leaving them less time to teach. Moreover, school leaders maintained the new policy was designed to encourage parents to be thoughtful about teachers’ time.

“When you’re getting multiple e-mails from the same parent or parents it might become a bit much when you’re also teaching all day,” District Spokesman Craig Degginger told TV news crews.

Parents weren’t buying it and continued to protest. In the end, moms and dads with kids at the school scored a victory when administrators lifted the email limit. Now, parents are free to email their child’s teacher as often as they feel necessary, but they must keep it brief.

How often do you communicate with your child’s teacher?

Related Articles:

Recess Mom

Requesting a New Teacher

Trusting Your Child’s Teacher

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.

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