Weekly Summaries #MTBoS30

Parent communication is hard. At the start of the year, my principal mentioned something his old school did where students texted their parents during the day with kind of a status update on how they’re doing in classes and what they’ve been doing. I took this idea and tried to do it daily but that was a little much, so I did a made it into a weekly summary. Since I have A-B block scheduling at my school, this meant students were doing these at the end of class on Thursdays or Fridays.

I made a Google Form for each class and used a few Add-ons to make it so that when the students submitted it, a copy of their responses would be sent home to the guardian email and cc’d to me. The link to the Google Form was saved in the About page of Google Classroom. I asked for what they did in class this week, what they learned in class this week, their grade, their missing assignments, a rating of how they’re feeling about class, and anything else they want to say. Students were surprised the first time that it actually went to their parents (I guess my disclaimer at the top wasn’t convincing enough), and yes there were some that had lied about grades and missing assignments. Since I received an email, I was able to check this and send a polite correction email to students and parents. After the first time I sent corrected emails, students were truthful in their responses. I would use the responses, especially the ratings of how they’re feeling in class, to help me know who I need to talk to most and what I need to address.

These are what students saw:

This is what I saw, but I’ll be honest – I rarely opened this. You can tell Blade was really descriptive. Also, responses in general became less specific as the year went on:

This is what parents (and I) saw. I checked every email at the end of the day on Thursday and Friday. It probably took about 10 minutes each day, but I only have a total of 71 students:

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 8.27.03 AM

My best student comments about this process were along the lines of: “Ugh I wish we didn’t have to do this. It makes my parents want to talk to me about class!” I did have students that did tell me they liked the process, though, and that I might get some Weekly Summaries this summer.

I did not get too many parent responses (I set up the email so that they would reply to me), but I did get one that stood out. It is an email from a board member that teaches in another district. She said:
Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 8.28.04 AMTeacher sharing for the win! So since this was a pretty important person that was requesting it, I spent some time making sure my directions were good. I will admit, they are pretty long and it will probably take at least 30 minutes to set up your first class, but after the setup it just always works. I’ve never had an issue.

Here are the directions: Class Update Directions (docx)    Class Update Directions (pdf)

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. There was some conversation on Twitter last night about parent contact being a goal for next year. I agree and want to be in touch with parents more. The Weekly Summaries helped, but I couldn’t really tell how many parents I was reaching.

Il faut communiquer avec les parents, mais c’est très difficile.

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