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Parent Teacher Email Etiquette

Parent Teacher Email Etiquette – As a parent, I wonder what goes through a teacher’s mind when discovering yet another email coming in from a parent. When I went to school, the teachers hid behind a make believe steel curtain that could only be entered during parent/teacher conferences. Because of what I’m used to, I am always hesitant to email my children’s teachers and I typically read over each email several times before hitting send. Is this the norm, or highly unnecessary?


You can’t help but notice the larger class sizes and budget cuts forcing teachers to try to do more with less. The instant access to teachers via e-mail allows for quick messages may taken out of context. Conversely, I realize teachers have many students and parents to deal with so long-winded messages that aren’t direct may be taken the wrong way as well. Parents are also often concerned about being labeled a dreaded “helicopter mom”. So, how and what method is the best way to approach your child’s teacher regarding grades or classroom concerns? What’s are the best tips for parent teacher email etiquette?

I decided to speak with a local teacher to get her input on Parent Teacher Email Etiquette. I interviewed Tracy, a teacher from Lapeer County, who has been teaching k-6 for the past 20 years. Below is the Q&A from the interview

Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – Should parents ever feel nervous about approaching a teacher?

Teacher Tracy – Parents shouldn’t feel nervous, but there are some teachers that don’t make parents feel comfortable with contacting them. Parents have the right to ask a teacher information about their child.  It is the teacher’s job to provide the parents with information.  Communication between home and school is vital. The more communication a parent receives, I have found the better the school year is for everyone. If a parent is ever made to feel uncomfortable by a teacher, then that parent should contact the principal.

Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – With the ease of emailing, when does contact become overkill or would you rather have a parent show excess concern as opposed to little or no concern?

Teacher Tracy – I would definitely rather parents show excess concern than to show little or no concern.  It is wonderful when parents want to keep in contact about how their child is doing. Many parents don’t answer emails or return phone calls from teachers, so it is a relief when parents show concern.

Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – Do you have parents that simply e-mail too much or don’t seem to understand the hectic schedule that teachers have?

Teacher Tracy – I have not had any parents that e-mail too much. Keeping in contact by e-mail is a quick and easy way to communicate for both the parents and the teacher. I prefer to email parents. It is quick, easy, and gives both the parent and teacher documentation of the conversation.

Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – What is proper parent teacher email etiquette when approaching you regarding grades, classroom behavior, etc.?

Teacher Tracy – Parents can either call, write a note, or email the teacher. If it is something serious, it would be best to call the teacher or set up a meeting.  Any way a parent chooses to contact me about concerns is appropriate. Some parents ignore concerns and let them fester until they are really upset. Contacting a teacher immediately would be the right thing for any parent to do.

When addressing social or behavior concerns, it’s important to take great caution and use proper parent teacher email etiquette in naming other children. It’s also important to give the teacher time to gather his own information about the situation before following up. Starting with an inquiry to the teacher instead of going directly to an administrator is helpful. The teacher will be the one to manage the day-to-day situation, so making that the first contact is imperative.

For more parent teacher email etiquette, when inquiring about grades, it’s easy to want to know how the child can “get more points” or “make up those points” when you see a startling report. While this is part of the situation, the larger, more important questions rest on what the child is learning. Ask about work habits and what your child is learning, and when you can discuss where the gap might be.

More parent teacher email etiquette, when questioning a classroom practice, it’s important to be curious and again, to focus on the learning. Often times parents get most frustrated at home when deadlines are fast approaching and that’s when we’re most likely to shoot off an inflammatory message.

Opening the door to a proactive and forward-thinking conversation can pay big dividends and appropriate parent teacher email etiquette is a big factor to improving relationships.

For more info on parent teacher email etiquette, have a frank discussion with your child’s teacher.

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