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Keeping & Using Parent-Teacher Communication Logs

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Communicating with parents is such an important part of the educational process. This lesson will introduce you to the use of parent-teacher communication logs as an effective strategy. You will learn to navigate some of the most common challenges of using these logs.

Why Keep Communication Logs?

Mrs. Mahler is a sixth grade language arts teacher who has been practicing for over a decade. Though Mrs. Mahler knows that her students love her and she is an effective practitioner, she struggles with parent communication. Mrs. Mahler understands that parents can be her best supports in educating students, and communicating with parents is especially important when students are struggling for any reason. Yet she struggles to find the time to dedicate to parent meetings and conversations, and sometimes she feels shy or reluctant about reaching out to parents.

After consulting with some colleagues, Mrs. Mahler decides that she will start using communication logs to keep in touch with the parents of her students who need the most support. Communication logs are basically a system for keeping in regular touch with parents about a student's behavior or academic progress. These logs can be incredibly helpful because they create a built-in communication routine, and parents come to expect regular input from their child's teacher. Communication logs keep channels open for parents and teachers to ask each other questions, provide useful information, and brainstorm mutually about how best to help the child.

Questions To Answer Before You Start Logging

Before Mrs. Mahler begins working on parent-teacher communication logs, she realizes she needs to answer a number of important questions.

  • Which students will she log for?

Parent-teacher communication logs are time and labor intensive. It is not usually necessary for a teacher to maintain these logs for every student in the class. Mrs. Mahler decides to use logs with the five students she worries about the most or those whose parents she sees the least often.

  • What format should the log take?

Some teachers and parents settle on a pen and paper log, and jot one sentence back and forth each day. Others might keep a digital log via e-mail or a google doc, and send more substantive missives once a week. There is no one set format, but parents and teachers should agree on a system that is going to work for both of them in a sustainable and meaningful way.

If you are just starting out on logging, purchase a simple notebook and designate left-hand pages for teacher communication and right-hand pages for parent communication and response. Do not go beyond one page in length for any particular entry; keep your writing as short as you can without sacrificing content. Meet with parents to make sure everyone involved understands how your logging procedures are going to go. Make sure to write the date on top of each entry, and after a few weeks, assess what is and isn't working about your logging system.

  • Who should have access to the log?

Some teachers make the log open to the student, while others prefer to keep it private between teachers and families. Make sure you establish explicit guidelines regarding how the log should get back and forth between home and school, who should read it and when, and how the teacher will know the parents have seen her communications.

  • What about language and literacy issues?

Mrs. Mahler knows that not all of the families in her class are fluent speakers and readers of English, and she realizes that logs with these families might need to take a different format. She enlists the help of a liaison in her school to translate her communication log into Spanish for one student, and with another family, she figures out a way to use a log with oral recordings rather than writing.

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