On School Information System, a mother in Madison, Wisconsin begs the school district to communicate via e-mail.

We used to live in Anchorage, AK and while it might be thousand of miles away from the rest of civilization their school district had joined the 21st century via computers. They sent emails to parents and you could do the same. The amazing thing is, they answered the email! They sent concerns, weekly summaries and PTO newsletters on computers. What a concept, save money on xeroxing, increase parent participation and knowledge, and improve communication.

In Madison schools, most teachers don’t use e-mail or even voicemail to communicate with parents, she complains.

When my daughter was in high school, I left several voicemail messages for a teacher, who never called back. When I finally connected, in person, she told me the answering machine was collecting messages but wouldn’t play them back. It took weeks to discover the problem and weeks more to get the machine fixed.

About Joanne


  1. We have phones in our classrooms that have voice mail mailboxes. There is also a log in the office of incoming and outgoing calls, so we have proof of when we return parental calls, or attempt to contact parents.

    We used to have a website that allowed us to post not only our student’s grades, but their actual page in our gradebooks. Parents could log on and see their student’s grade, whether or not they were turning in their homework and generally monitor their progress. The teachers, parents, counselors and even students all loved it. Unfortunately, we gota new superintendent that has nixed it citing privacy concerns, even though the gradebooks were password protected.

    We do still have e-mail access and school site e-mail addresses for the parents to contact us, but few parents do.

  2. I love email for communicating with parents for numerous reasons.
    *For starters, and this sounds silly, but the landline is on the opposite side of the classroom from my computer, so looking at a student’s grade on an incoming phone call requires the whole “one second” and shuttle run between the phone and the computer.

    *Secondly, I can very calmly lay out my response to a parent who is not happy, at a time when I am not flustered and can devote the appropriate attention to their query.

    * It leaves me with a log of when I wrote back and exactly what I said, so there is no confusion.

    * The asynchronous nature of email allows parents to read the response and reply at a time when they choose. Many parents have noted their preference for this, especially if the usual means of contact would be a phone call at work.

    Does this mean I won’t call parents or do face to face meetings? Not at all, I try to accomodate parents in as many ways as possible. But so many parents have told me how happy they are that I am email savvy, because it makes their lives easier, so I take it as a positive.

  3. This is an important topic that isn’t discussed enough.

    Many teachers don’t return phone calls.

    Even I can’t reach several of my fellow teachers by phone.

    One never checks phone messages.

    One has her voice mail box always too full to take another call.

    Several have phones they don’t know how to configure for the voice mail to operate.

    I would estimate that 1/4 of the teachers at my school are hard to reach by phone.

    And sometimes when I return a call, the parent is astonished. “I left messages for five other teachers and you’re the only one who called me back!” And this is after I take a week to return the call.

    And email? Some teachers simply say, “I don’t do email.”

    It shouldn’t be this way.

    Communicating with parents is an important part of our job. We need to return phone calls and email on the day we receive them.

  4. Jack Tanner says:

    ‘And email? Some teachers simply say, “I don’t do email.”‘

    That’s what my son’s pricipal told us about his teacher. Then she told us that requesting suggestions of how to help him, twice in writing and once via email was offensive because I told the teacher she was unprofessional for not responding to our written requests.