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Parent Communication Time

Other 

LoveTeachBaby

Junior Member
Hello,

I have a couple of questions about parent communication?

A. Do you have a max time after work where you answer parents?

B. How do you communicate to parents about it? How do you tell them for example that you don't usually answer messages after x time.

C. if a parent messages you late at night like around 9 pm do you answer or wait until the next morning to answer? additionally, if you dont answer at night when you answer in the morning what do you say? do you say I am sorry for not responding sooner, I don't check my texts at night? (what wording would you use)

Thanks!
 
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dee

Senior Member
I became a stickler

I only answer during contract times. I don't apologize, I just answer.

A couple of times, I called the family immediately because their child was in crisis.

But my home time is MY time.
 

eliza4one

Senior Member
Not sure if you are talking about text or e-mail. I do not give out my personal phone number to parents (I can only imagine the can of worms that would open). I only communicate via e-mail and phone, if needed.

A. Do you have a max time after work where you answer parents?

I don't, but most teachers do. I keep odd hours, so I am often up at 4:00 a.m. answering e-mails.

B. How do you communicate to parents about it? How do you tell them for example that you don't usually answer messages after x time.

This could be done in the beginning of year newsletter and e-mails throughout the year. Also, in response to an e-mail/text from a parent who contacts you outside your available hours.

C. if a parent messages you late at night like around 9 pm do you answer or wait until the next morning to answer? additionally, if you dont answer at night when you answer in the morning what do you say? do you say I am sorry for not responding sooner, I don't check my texts at night? (what wording would you use)

I wouldn't apologize. I would include a reminder that I don't answer e-mails/text after x time. If I happen to be working at 9:00 pm (and I often am), then yes, I will answer an e-mail from a parent.

To me, texting is vastly different than e-mail. A text comes directly to your phone and you are notified "in your face" immediately. An e-mail, you actually have to go to your e-mail account. If you aren't on your e-mail account, you don't see it, so it's as if it never came, until you actually do log into your e-mail.

I think if I used texts as a method of communication, I would definitely set some time guidelines/boundaries!
 

dutchgirl

Senior Member
In the 'beginning of the year' note sent home, I let parents know that emails would be answered within 24 hours during my prep, as my time at school is primarily working with students. I stuck to it, and would only answer parent emails during my prep. I asked parents to contact the office if they had an urgent message for their child, as I might not see it until the next day.

Yes, I did sometimes read emails before my prep - but never responded earlier! It gave me time to think through what I needed to say!
 

raelyn

Full Member
Communication

I do not answer parent emails after my contractual work day ends, only during my prep. My prep is early in the day. I inform parents of this in my BOY newsletter and at Back to School Night. I don't text with parents and I never, ever give out my personal phone number. I learned the hard way that some parents will take advantage of your number and call/text you at all times of the day and night. Not giving out your number nips all of that nonsense in the bud. An apology for responding the next day isn't necessary.
 

Aderynbach

Senior Member
I only answer emails while at school. I chose not to connect my email to my phone so I don’t see emails that come once I’m home.
I email back within 24 hours, or if it’s a weekend, by the next school day.
I’ve never communicated this to parents and it hasn’t been an issue.
If I were to communicate I would pretty much say what I did above.
Some teachers in my building text parents, but I want my home time to be separate from school. I don’t give out my cell number. It’s cliche, but other professionals don’t have to be always on call. I think we can care for families well and set boundaries.
 
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School Time

Senior Member
I just retired after more than 40 years. I usually answered in the evening because I had more time to think. But by the time we had email, my kids were young adults and I didn't have the time constraints at home as I did when they were younger. I actually prefer to speak with parents in the evening. They aren't at work and often had more time. I know as a teacher, it would be hard for me to take a call during the day. When my kids were younger, I would warn them that they had better not be arguing in the background. I also block my number or I had a Google Voice number.

My daughter is a teacher and she times her emails to parents to go out during contract hours.

Before people tell me that teachers shouldn't have to work on their own time, that is true. But my ex was in finance and worked horrendous hours (yes, paid more) but some weeks he worked until 11 at went back in the morning. My other daughter is a lawyer for a non profit so she isn't highly paid but she works hours off the clock. She had a vacation day last Monday and was on the phone handling things for the next day.

Whatever works best for you.
 

Haley23

Senior Member
I tell parents at the beginning of the year that email is the fastest way to reach me, and that I will respond within 24 hours on school days. I do not give parents my personal cell number, so they aren't able to text me.

Email is the one school thing I will occasionally work on outside of contract hours. I just have more time to focus and think of a good response, and it honestly doesn't bother me most of the time. I don't tend to make plans on week nights anyway, but if I were off doing super fun plans, I don't worry about checking my email. It doesn't feel like something I "have" to do.

That said, if I email a parent I ALWAYS "schedule send" for during contract hours. So even if I type up my response at 7 PM because that's what I feel like doing, I NEVER want the parent to think that I'm available to them at that time on a normal basis, and I don't want them to expect that quick of a response next time. So I'll finish the email, but schedule send it to go out at 8 AM the next morning.

I don't say "sorry for the delayed response" or anything like that. I'm still responding within 24 hours, so IMO it's not a late response/I have no reason to apologize. If there is a scenario where I can't answer the question within 24 hours because I don't know the answer, I'll write back and say, "Thanks for your question, I'm checking with (the appropriate person) and will let you know as soon as I have an answer." That way I've still acknowledged their message within 24 hours.
 

Luvetc3

Senior Member
My 2 cents

I typically answer emails up until 7 or so, but I've been known to answer some later as well.

I tell parents at the beginning of the year that they can expect a response within 24 hours during the week.

It depends. If it's a run of the mill question, I'll let it wait. If it's more pressing, I usually answer. I do not apologize unless it goes beyond the 24 hour mark.
 

Teacherbee_4

Senior Member
Parent Contact

I think we all need to do what works best for us.

I don't give parents a time frame. When I respond depends on the parent, the information, the time of night, what I was doing, etc. If I'm getting ready for bed and notice I have an e-mail I rarely respond. However, there was once I tried to let the e-mail go and it bothered me. I couldn't sleep until I responded. I know others responding to these types of e-mails would make it worse. For me, I need to face it head on for my mental health. If I'm out and about and notice I have an e-mail from a parent (like at the mall or something) I also generally don't respond. If a parent is really stressing about something, I'd rather save relationship and respond and help the parent, then not respond right away. Maybe some see it as caving into parents, but to me, if a PITA parent e-mails me and I can respond somewhat quickly, it's worth taking the 5 minutes to respond than to further piss the parent off. That's just me, though.

I don't feel guilty if I don't get to it that night. If it was time sensitive like about the homework, I answer the question and then say something like "I can touch base with so-so today" or something like that.
 

Sbkangas5

Senior Member
I tell parents that I will answer emails during work hours. Now, if it's a parent I like or I have something I want to communicate I might go outside work hours, but that's my choice, not their expectation. No apology is needed if they message you late and you answer in the morning. Other businesses don't contact people after hours, why should we?
 

Violets2

Senior Member
Our P had given us the rule of thumb to answer within 24 hours. There were times my prep time during some days was totally used up by me to prep for something I needed to do for a lesson so I wouldn't have had time to reply during the official work day. I never minded taking a bit of time before/after school to answer their question. I was an early bird to the building so could answer before the official school day and took a few minutes after school while the parking lot cleared to also answer if needed.

We used a messaging system that we could "text" parents. At times, I'd get a message later in the evening. If I could answer it quickly, I would. I figured if it put the parent at ease so they wouldn't stew about something, no biggie to me to answer. If it wasn't urgent, I'd wait until the next day. I've never had parents upset that I wasn't responsive in a timely manner.

Now, if it was a phone call, those I answered during school hours or right after school. Never in the evenings from my personal phone.
 

Lilbitkm

Senior Member
A. Do you have a max time after work where you answer parents?
Our district policy is 48 hours but I never wait that long. If I can’t immediately answer their question I will tell them that I’ll find out and get back to them by the end of the week.

B. How do you communicate to parents about it? How do you tell them for example that you don't usually answer messages after x time.
I’ve never had to but other teachers have just addressed it as needed.

C. if a parent messages you late at night like around 9 pm do you answer or wait until the next morning to answer? additionally, if you dont answer at night when you answer in the morning what do you say? do you say I am sorry for not responding sooner, I don't check my texts at night? (what wording would you use)
We use ClassDojo to communicate with parents (I also do give out my cell phone number but most don’t utilize it). The app has a “quiet hours” option which I have set from 9 pm - 7 am, they can send messages but it won’t alert me. However, I will read/respond almost any time. Most times, it’s easier for me to respond to parents when I’m alone and in quiet vs during the school day. If I receive a message late at night and respond the next morning I don’t say anything about when I am responding, I just respond.
 

Ima Teacher

Senior Member
I had that information on my classroom webpage. I also had an automatic reply set up on my email so that after my set office hours, they would immediately get an email with my work hours, planning time, etc.

I do not acknowledge anything except during set times. If they email outside of those hours, I answer whenever i start my set time. There is no other answer given because they already know that I won’t answer other times.

I’m in a small town, so there were rarely any parents that I didn’t know. That means a lot of them have my personal phone number or know me on social media. I don’t answer any work-related questions on my personal accounts or numbers.
 

bGracie

Under Review
I also had an automatic reply set up on my email so that after my set office hours, they would immediately get an email with my work hours, planning time, etc.
This is what I was going to suggest. It acknowledges that their email was received, and it also reminds them of when they can expect a reply.
 

School Time

Senior Member
When and how I responded depended also on the situation. I had grandparents who had custody of child. His mom had died and he also had ADHD. Even with therapy, he had moments where he was difficult for the grandparents. One evening he was agitated about something in his homework. They called my Google Voice number. For most families, I would have let it go until the next day. But I knew that this child would be a mess and the grandparents, who were trying their best, didn't know how to help him. So I called back. The problem was trivial but the child couldn't cope.
 

GraceKrispy

Senior Member
As a busy parent who often emailed my kids' teachers late at night, i certainly never expected them to respond late at night. That was just the only time i had to send the email.
I've seen people on the board sometimes seem annoyed at parents sending emails late at night. I don't get that, unless parents were explicitly demanding a response at that time. The benefit of email is that you can send it whenever without being intrusive. If it goes to a teacher's phone, then the teacher must have set it up to do that. It doesn't have to, unlike a text. Texts are intrusive.

As a teacher, i only checked emails at work. I never gave out a cell phone number.

For my current non- classroom position, I often write a response to a parent right away but delay send for a workday hour.

So my answers:


A. Do you have a max time after work where you answer parents?

No. I answer at all times. I just don't send at all times.

B. How do you communicate to parents about it? How do you tell them for example that you don't usually answer messages after x time.

Usually that they will usually hear back within 36 weekday hours

C. if a parent messages you late at night like around 9 pm do you answer or wait until the next morning to answer? additionally, if you dont answer at night when you answer in the morning what do you say? do you say I am sorry for not responding sooner, I don't check my texts at night? (what wording would you use)

I answer, but delay send. I don't apologize. They get to know when I'll respond
 

cruxian

Senior Member
I agree with everyone's answers! I don't have a max time after work; I generally don't check emails after work and if I do, most of the time I wait until work hours to answer the email.
I mention at back to school night. I find parents don't mind waiting until the next day.
I don't give out my phone number and choose not to have my work email on my phone so I won't see it unless I check my work computer. I don't apologize. If it's a question, I simply answer it. I might say something along the lines of, "Thanks for reaching out with your question" or something along those lines.

I realize the next part is not what you've asked but FWIW as a parent I never expected an immediate response. I would email in the evenings or after work because that was my family time and when I was thinking about DD. When DD's teacher was at work, so was I so might not have time to pass along the information so I'd email when I could.
 
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