Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Communication

"Does he always send so many emails?"  I heard this question from a new parent via a more experienced one, and the answer is, "it varies."  I thought I would take the opportunity to explain some policies/procedures that I use and place them in several different blog posts.  This one will deal with communication between parents, students, and me.

Some weeks, like those leading up to band camp, there will be numerous contacts made.  Most weeks, however, I will try to limit my communications to sending out the link for the weekly-ish blog post.  Once marching band season concludes, you really don't hear from me much at all until January and concert dates and such come up, but I will occasionally send out something regarding class activities or upcoming things that are not performances.

The usual scenario is that on Monday morning I will write a new blog post for the week's events and send a link via email.  This allows a more permanent space for information, etc. so that people can access it any time.

For more immediate things that don't necessarily require a "permanent" home, I will probably send an email listing the information.  This might include a reminder for students to wear white socks with their uniforms, for instance, or maybe a reminder about fees due for rental or uniforms.

I also have a direct phone number to my office (616-748-3130), and you are welcome to leave a voicemail.  I am not a huge fan of voicemail for a number of reasons, but chief among those is my desk.  It is not always a place that is conducive to finding the note I just wrote to call a parent back about an issue!  Feel free to call, but I am not nearly as efficient with the phone.

Communication from you to me is always best via email - kwalker@zps.org.  If it makes it to my inbox it will be dealt with as soon as possible.  

Email "policies" that I try to adhere to:
 - I usually do NOT check email after 4 p.m. or on weekends.  Anything sent after 4 p.m. or after Friday will be read the following school day.  This allows me time to be away from school and recharge, which I have found to be a very important part of being a successful (or at least sane) teacher.
 - If an email asks something that several people are asking, I will probably add it to the following week's blog post, and that may happen without a personal response to each person.
 - I like to reply/close out email issues within a day or two.  No promises on 24 hours or anything, but I don't like letting things sit for a week, either.  I try to keep my inbox to fewer than 30 messages.

Student communication

This is an area which I like to let students bear some responsibility.  In the event that there are schedule conflicts with athletics, or if students are concerned about a playing test, etc., I think it is important for them to make contact with me before the parents.  It's not something I require at all, but please help me to encourage them to develop these skills by having them do some of the work that you are used to doing.  

I also maintain a student email list separate from the parental one so that I can communicate classroom stuff during the week.  These may be very different than the messages I send to parents - mainly due to the specific details in them.  I expect students to check their student email accounts regularly for these communications as part of their classwork.  In the age of digital communication and 1:1 iPads, they are expected to keep up with these.

OFFICE VISITS:
Please feel free to set up an appointment to speak with me personally if you feel the need - whether that be for a specific classroom concern or just to stop in and meet me in person, I am available a couple of different times each day.  My planning/conference period is 1st hour (7:45 - 8:45 a.m.).  I also can make myself available after school if need be.