Parent Email Communication
When I was a student, emailing parents did not exist. Best tips for emailing parents was not part of my teacher credential program. As a parent, I am super appreciative that my kids’ teachers can communicate better with me than putting a paper in a folder in my kid’s backpack. Email also allows for 2 way communication rather than just sending information home. A huge improvement. Suggestion to have a spreadsheet of parent email addresses that you can quickly copy and paste into an email.
Use BCC instead of putting everyone’s email in the To line of an email. This protects the privacy of parents who do not want their emails shared with everyone. It also prevents unintentional Reply All comments of “thanks.” BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) allows you to send an email to multiple recipients without them seeing who else the email was sent to. Use this pretty much all the time when you are not emailing one specific person or collaboration group. In Gmail, the default is “To” and not BCC. Click in the “Recipients” area to reveal the CC and BCC options to the right. Click on BCC and paste the parent email addresses into the “BCC” line. You do NOT need to have anyone in the “To” line.
Specific Subject Line
Use a very specific subject line that clearly describes why the parent is opening the email. “Newsletter” is not specific enough. Some parents will ONLY see the subject line and never open the email. Make that count! However, do not write an email into the subject line. In 10 words or less, summarize what the email is about and if there is a call to action. If you need a response by a certain date, please include that.
*Reply by Wed: Field trip permission slips signed.
*Math test on Friday and other important updates.
*Please sign up for parent conference by Friday May 26th.
Put It In the Body
Never link to anything with the important information. You can provide the link also but if you want people to read the information, put it in the body of the email. Research shows people don’t click on links or look at attachments. If you want the highest possible opportunity for people to read the information, put it in the body of the email. Please refrain from “Attached you will find the information about the open house.” Many parents will never open that attachment. If you do not want to copy and paste the entire text of the attachment, pull out the really essential information and put it in bullets in the email. Realize, many parents will not open that attachment so what is really essential for them to know? Put that in the body of the email.
Try Google Keep
If the information is on paper and you do not have the digital text consider using Google Keep. Install the Google Keep app on your phone. It is essentially post it notes. Take a picture of the handout into a Google Keep note. Google Keep allows you to extract the image text. It does a pretty decent job. If your text is in columns it will require you do some editing of the text, but is still pretty handy! After extracting the text from the paper handout you can copy and paste that into the body of an email.
Eliminate or Reduce Attachments
Realize people are very likely to access the information on mobile. Attachments are a hindrance on mobile devices in particular. Use them sparingly.
Platform Independent Communication
Consider that people have different access to different programs. Try to provide any resources in a format that is platform independent. For example, I do not have Office. Sending a Word attachment assumes that parents can access Office documents.
Include a Google Form
Instead of PDF papers to fill out, consider using Google Forms. This is universally accessible from any device. The trick though is to make sure you go into the settings cog in Google Forms and UNselect the “Restrict to users” on the domain checkbox.
If you need the information from the Form in a format that matches the paper version, use the Autocrat Add-on to merge parent responses to a Google Doc. If parents can fill out a web form instead of having to mess with an attachment you will get a response from parents much faster.
Just Use Google Forms
Consider just using Google Forms period. Having multiple parents reply by email can be overwhelming. If you send out your information via a Google Form so that parents respond in the Form instead of responding to the email you can see all parent responses to that topic in one place; the Google Form. When wanting to communicate with parents, create a Google Form with all the information they need to know in the Form with spots for parents to optionally respond built in. Instead of composing an email, use the “Send” button in Google Forms to email parents. Paste the parent email addresses into the “To” field of the “Send form.” There is a checkbox to check that says “Include form in email.” Again, if people have to click on a link they are less likely to do so than if it is just available right in the email. Increase participation by checking the checkbox.