I hope you all had a relaxing and/or productive Labor Day weekend and are refreshed and ready to start this short week. Now that we’re back to work, it’s time for another installment in our classroom organization series.
My last post was over how to communicate with parents; but as every teacher knows we also need to document, document, document those contacts. But how exactly should you do that? In a perfect world, what I would have liked to have done was have a separate log/documentation sheet for each student where I could write notes about grades, behavior, absences, parent contacts, etc. and have one comprehensive page with all the info about that child on it. However, when you teach high school and have 150+ students, the thought of creating, storing, and easily accessing all those information sheets is daunting. If I taught elementary school and only had 25 or so students in my class, then I would do things differently (there are some cool ideas on Pinterest if anyone is looking for that sort of method). But this is what ultimately worked for me when I taught high school so that’s what I’m going to share today.
I created a very simple Excel spreadsheet to use for my contacts. No bells or whistles, nothing fancy, just a quick and easy contact log of sorts. I made columns for date of contact, student name, contact’s (parent/guardian) name, method of contact, and notes about the contact.
Like I said earlier, I would have preferred to have one sheet of paper in a notebook for each kid to document things, but since I decided that was unreasonable this was the next best thing. Because I used Excel, I was about to use the “search in sheet” or “find” function to locate each contact I made about a particular student. So if ever someone (principal, counselor) wanted to know if I had been in contact with parents (about grades, behavior, whatever), I could easily search for that student’s name and find all the dates I contacted parents and what we talked about. I know we hate to think about these things happening, but there are times when a parent might claim that they never knew that their child was failing, and having this on hand allows the teacher to say “look here where I called you on this date and left a message, sent an email on this date, and mailed a letter on this date – I definitely tried to contact you about his/her grades”.
Document, document, document. You can never be too careful.
Some other things I didn’t do but that could easily be done using this method:
- make another column for class period (1st block, 2nd block), you could then sort each column by class if you wanted to see who you had contacted from each block
- use the tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet to create several sheets within one document (one sheet per class, perhaps, or maybe a new sheet for each grading period)
I know this is nothing revolutionary or amazing, but maybe this is helpful for someone. And just in case you want a copy of my spreadsheet rather than having to create one yourself…here you go: parent contacts (just click on the link to download the spreadsheet).
What method works best for you when documenting parent communications?