While I was delivering distance instruction during the COVID-19 crisis, the school for which I taught asked instructors not to inundate parents and guardians with unnecessary messages, as the school and departments would be reaching out to families multiple times a week. Therefore, my cooperating teacher and I only sent communications to express concern that a student was not participating in class, replying to our messages, or turning in assignments. In these emails, I tried to emphasize my understanding of the difficulties of distance learning, willingness to support students in completing their work, and desire to stay connected with students.
To demonstrate how I approach family communications, I have included the actual text from a series of emails I sent to a parent. I removed the student’s name and summarized the parent’s replies to protect privacy. Throughout distance learning, I sent roughly twenty message chains similar to the one below.
Example Parent Email Chain
First Contact (Initial Check-in)
I hope you are staying well. My name is Ashley Mattei, and I student teach K. PreAP English course. I want to check in on K. to see how she is doing. I noticed that K. did not submit the first part of her Independent Reading Project to Schoology. Students received the instructions for this project in early December. Ms. M. and I want to support K. in completing her project so that she can finish this school year out strong. She submitted excellent work for her The Atlantic analysis essay; I hate to see her lose points due to missing assignments.
I tried contacting K. through Schoology, but she did not respond. Can you please give us some insight into how K. is feeling and encourage her to communicate with us?
Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions.
Second Contact (Follow-up after no response)
I hope you are doing well. I want to follow up with you about K.’s missing PreAP English work and express my willingness to work with K. to ensure we create a manageable plan for her to finish her assignments and end the year strong. K. has not submitted the first and second parts of her Independent Reading Project or her Grammar Check assignment.
My main concern is that K. might feel overwhelmed as her missing assignments start to stack on top of each other. She is a joy to have in class and typically submits thoughtful, quality work. I want her to know that it is not too late for her to submit assignments and raise her grade. I appreciate any insight you can provide about the best way for me to connect with K. and to support her learning.
Take care, Ashley Mattei (PreAP English Student Teacher)
Third Contact (Response to parent reply)
Thank you for your prompt response. Please know that K. is not alone in her feelings. Understandably, many students are struggling to stay motivated and meet deadlines. Ms. Meuwissen and I recognize that schools are asking students and their families to work in new ways during challenging times, and we are keeping this in mind as we assess students’ work. I appreciate you, and I thank you for the ways you step up to help K. I look forward to hearing from her soon. Have a nice day, Ashley Mattei
Fourth Contact (Response to parent to confirm missing assignments)
Thank you for keeping me updated on K.’s work. I just checked the grade book, and it looks like K. is missing the assignments below:
- Grammar Check due 4/24
- IRP Part One due 4/13
- IRP Part Two due 5/5
For the IRPs, K. will find the assignment links and descriptions on Schoology in the IRP folder. For the grammar check, she will submit the grammar work she completed during the year. As always, both of you are welcome to reach out to me via phone or email if you have any questions. I understand catching up will take some time; so, just encourage K. to work at a pace that is right for her (she should find some time to enjoy the warm weather as well). We will not be giving out new assignments next week, so I hope that will give her some time. Take care, Ashley