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Parental 'access' to teachers in secondary schools

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by lancsHOD, Jan 21, 2012.

  1. lancsHOD

    lancsHOD New commenter

    I had an interesting meeting with some parents recently and they clearly feel that at Primary school they knew how their son was doing at school due to regular informal contact. We had played 'phone tag' for a while and then eventually managed a face-to-face meeting. The meeting was very positive: they wanted to work with me and a colleague to 'get their son back on track' after receiving a monitoring report showing that he was not putting enough effort into his work and his behaviour wasn't great.
    I gave them my e-mail so that they could easily communicate with me in future. Two weeks on I have exchanged e-mails and all is going well. The parents, child and I all know that improvement was needed and the child's knowledge that his parents and I were communicating about his effort and behaviour have helped facilitate the improvement.
    So, should teachers e-mail be widely available to parents.
    Colleague 1,a HOY had the viewpoint as follows, 'No way would I give out my e-mail I would constantly have another demand on my time and it would be another nail in the coffin of me ever achieving any kind of work-life balance. The expectations of teachers and the expansion of responsibility is spiralling out of control.
    Colleague 2, a new subject leader has said, 'I am thinking of making my e-mail widely available to help with parental communication. 'Even the Headteacher said, be careful what you wish for!'
    My view is that giving the e-mail to the parents described above meant that we could easily communicate. It saved me time not to have to play phone tag, and I could reply when it suited me, I could carefully consider my response.
    What do you think?
  2. frustum

    frustum Lead commenter

    The last school I worked in made it fairly easy for parents to e-mail teachers, and it was not generally abused. Where the e-mail exchange replaces telephone calls, it saves time overall, especially as you're not having to locate an available telephone and try several times before getting hold of the parent. And you get the chance to make a considered response, with what you've said on record for future reference. Where there was concern about homework completion, some staff set up an e-mail list of parents of their class, which meant they could send a quick e-mail with details of homework: if it saves chasing up a couple of missing homeworks,that probably saves time overall.
    I also got a fair number of e-mails from students who had forgotten their password for MyMaths, etc. Those were annoying, particularly with repeat offenders.
    The problem comes where parents start expecting feedback after every lesson, and so it's probably worth thinking through what the boundaries are. You might need to be ready to say to an individual parent "I teach 200 students - this is the limit of how much time I can spend on your e-mails", or perhaps establish a rule of dealing with parental e-mails once a week.

  3. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    Just been through yesterday's inbox. I got 32 emails roughly carved up as follows:
    2 from students (queries about work/exam entries)
    2 from parents (query about exam entries)
    10 from maths staff (slightly unusual since I had asked for some returns on exam retakes and there were a few queries to deal with from previous evening's parents evening)
    7 from other teachers (various nonsense - mostly ignored)
    7 from SLT (more nonsense, mostly ignored)
    4 mailings (always ignored)
    I encourage emails from students and parents, and find they don't abuse the system. In fact, I wish they'd email more often and sooner so whatever is festering in their minds could be sorted out before it becomes too big a deal.

  4. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Lead commenter

    At my son's schools all the teachers' emails are freely available and this is encouraged as the best method of contact. It's much better tahn phoning, as teachers oten aren't available, is friendly and open and means small problems can be sorted before they escalate.
  5. Agree with those who are saying email is much better than phoning, trying to get in touch by phone when as teachers we are effectively cut off from the world for around five hours a day in just a nightmare.

    I've found that people in school are far more likely to abuse email and waste my time than those outside of school.

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