Communicating With Parents: Keep Document Logs

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Keep a Log for Your Whole Caseload

A log to record parent communication. Websterlearning

A Log for your whole class or caseload

Students with disabilities have more than their fair share of issues. Some are behavioral, some are medical, some are social. Communicating constructively with parents should be part of how you approach those challenges. Sometimes their parents are their issue, but since as educators we don’t have the ability to change that, we need to do our best. And, of course, document, document, document. Often contacts will be by phone, though they may also be in person (be sure to note that.) If your students’ parents encourage you to email them, by all means, email them.

Best practices dictate that we record every time we communicate with a parent, even if it’s just a reminder to sign and send a permission slip to school. If you have a history of documenting communications, and a parent falsely claims they returned calls or gave you important information . . . well, there you go! It also creates the opportunity to remind parents that you have communicated in the past: i.e. “When I spoke to you last week . . .”

I have created two forms for you to use.  I would print in multiples, three-hole-punch it and place it in a binder near your phone. I would record each time you contact a parent, or parent contacts you. If a parent contacts you by email, print the email and place it in the same three ring binder, most recent in the front. Write the students name on the top of the printout to make it easier to find.

It’s not a bad idea to check your book and add an entry with a positive message to parents: a call to tell them something their child has done that was remarkable, a note to tell them about the progress their child has made, or just a thank you for sending the forms in. Record it. If there is ever a question about your part in creating a conflicted situation, you will have evidence that you made an effort to create a positive collaborative relationship with the parents.

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Documenting Communication for Challenging Students

A Communications Log to record conversations with the parent of a single child. Websterlearning

Some children present more challenges than others, and you may be on the phone with their parents more often. That has certainly been my experience. In some situations, you district may have forms that they expect you to fill out each time you contact a parent, especially if the child’s behaviors will be part of reconvening the IEP team in order to write FBA (Functional Behavioral Analysis) and a BIP (Behavior Improvement Plan).

Before your write you Behavior Improvement Plan, you need to be document the strategies you have used before you call the meeting. Having specific records of your communications with the parents will help you understand the arc of the challenges you are facing. Parents don’t want to be blindsided, but you don’t want to go into a meeting and be accused of failing to communicate with parents. So, communicate. And document.

This form gives you plenty of space to make notes after each contact. When the communication is by note or record form (such as a daily report), be sure you keep a copy. I have a notebook for each child’s data sheets: I place the communication sheet behind the data sheets and a divider, since I want to get right at my data sheets when I am collecting data with a student. You will find that it not only protects you in case of conflict with parents, it also provides you a lot of information that will help you shape strategies, communicate your needs with your administrator, and prepare for IEP team meetings as well as the possibility of having to chair a Manifestation Determination meeting.

The final word, of course, is always document, document, document.

a Log to record communication for a single, challenging student.