I went to a seminar about Special Education and the Law a few years ago and I remember something the speaker said that really made an impact on me. He said that most of the parents say that they would not have filed suit if the school had just called them back. As a parent, I know that I have called the teacher, the guidance counselors, and the administrators but had to call a few times before I ever received a return call. Once email came about, I thought it would be easier to get a response because I know how busy the teachers are, but this didn’t happen either.
Photo by splorp
Photo by splorp
I made it a personal goal to call or email a parent back within 48 hours and I would tell the parents this during the first contact I made with them. I also put this in my classroom newsletter. But I told them that I was only human and sometimes make mistakes, so if they haven’t heard from me within 48 hours, I might have lost their number, never got the message, or just plain forgot and would appreciate it if they contacted me again. If the parents hear this up front, it helps ease the communication process. Of course, I did my best to meet my goal and it helped motivate me to make the contact even though I would rather have avoided it at all costs. Let’s face it, every teacher has that parent that they hate to communicate with but it is much easier on everyone’s nerves if you just bite the bullet and get it over with. Sometimes I found out what I was anxious about never happened and I would have wasted time worrying about making the contact. And if it ends up a bad situation, it is better to get it out in the open and deal with it than to let it fester like a sore and get worse.
I had a great principal years ago that encouraged this communication too and that helped me stay on track. He was really good about saying that if I made a mistake or did something unintentionally in class, it was much better to tell the parent that I messed up and would correct it than to avoid the discussion because the parent just gets angrier. And if I could avoid having an angry parent contact the principal, we all would be much happier!
Maybe this story could help you have a successful school year. I hope it does!