Monday, May 30, 2011

Parent survey says communicate!

I did a SurveyMonkey survey of my middle school parents to find out how best to communicate with them in the future. In 5 days I heard from more than half the parents. Interesting results:

Nobody wanted Skype or WebEx/Elluminate-style parent conferences, mostly face-to-face (71%) email (52%), and telephone (24%).  But parent conferences weren’t even that high on the list of “ways to find out what’s happening in my child’s classroom.”

The ways parents found most helpful to learn what was happening at school were (with parents choosing more than one):

  • Edline progress reports 96% (This also showed up in comments, with parents complaining about teachers who rarely update progress reports). Edline allows us to post progress reports at the assignment/test level that come right from the gradebook at any time. This shows parents how their kids are doing at the assignment/test level as of today. They like it. What does this mean to teachers? Take the extra 5 minutes to post your grades to the online gradebook and upload progress reports about the grades to Edline. There are many gradebook/progress report packages available for schools. For those who use Edline and need a refresher click on
  • Emails about my child 92%    Easy to do via Edline, and you automatically get a copy of the email sent to your school email address. Not sure how to do it with Edline? Click on
  • Emails about class activities 83%   You can send an email to the entire class via Edline – great way to introduce a new unit, a field trip, a problem that arose in class, a major assignment. These are their children. Parents want to know what they’re doing. Based on the number of emails I got from high school parents this year in response to whole class emails, I’d say high school parents still want to hear from us. Not sure how to do it with Edline? Click on
  • Conversations with my child 79%
  • Class web pages (Edline) 75% Not sure how to make your Edline class web pages more useful and appealing? Click on
  • School email newsletter 67% If two-thirds of parents use the enewsletter to find out what’s happening, it seems like it’s worth the effort to give the editor the information so that she can let parents and other interested parties know what’s going on.
  • Study guides (which I email home and post on Edline) 67%
  • Report cards 58%
  • Parent-teacher conferences 29%
  • Looking at Moodle over parent’s shoulder 13%
  • Back to School Night 13%
  • Comments in Agenda (assignment book) 4%

What does this tell me? Parents want to know what’s happening in classes (class emails) and how their child is doing (progress reports). We have effective tools that don’t take a lot of time to use that help parents keep tabs on their children. Teachers often complain about uninvolved parents – but we have tools to help them be involved. We sure better use ‘em.

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