So the school added a new requirement for volunteers and teachers, that we get parental consent before electronically communicating with students (Fine makes since, easy to add another form to the recruitment packet)
Does anyone else have this? and do y’all have a boilerplate Electronic Communication Acknowledgement Form we can use. ( if no one posts one by Wednesday Ill post what we come up with as a paper)
We had one on 423; I don’t have a copy of it though. IIRC, it was basically just a half page saying that the parent gives certain mentors/teachers permission to communicate electronically (via personal email/text) with their child. Then they signed at the bottom. You can use some fancy language to make it look nice, but that’s really the crux of it.
We don’t need an acknowledgement form, but we do have strict rules around electronic communications. No texting or phone calls, and emails have to go through our school emails with parents and at least one other mentor copied on every email. It’s annoying, but given all the YPP issues you read about, it’s definitely the right policy.
I’d recommend using a third party texting platform, like Band or Remind or TeamSnap. This way there is no sharing of personal information or contact, all digital communications are documented, and users can set up their own method of contact (text, emails, etc).
Our students are exclusive to Slack. The nice thing about Slack is that it allows you to designate each member to certain conversations. Students can’t access a discussion between mentors but mentors can add notifications or information to just the programming students.
I would put it the general requirements and release waiver to be on the team. Personally I don’t have the time or the inclination to figure out who I can and cannot communicate with.
The requirement to copy someone else on electronic communication is one of the things that sounds good in meetings, but leaves a lot to be desired in practice. The lead mentors and coaches already are dealing with a lot of traffic without adding more just for CYA. If the parents are really that needy, they can mirror their children’s electronic communications on their own.
It isn’t always just about CYA. It might even be a school district requirement. If you don’t follow school district (or other sponsoring organization) rules, they can shut the team down in most cases. The key point is that another adult is included in the chain, just in case something is going wrong. I don’t think it would have to be another mentor, per se–parents are also a good option (if they aren’t dealing with the same thing from the other 20 organizations their children are in).
1197 uses Slack, with one caveat: We ask that the private message function not be used, especially student-to-mentor. Simple as that. We also put the parents on Slack so they can monitor or not if they want to (and so that we can talk to the parents electronically as needed).
Just because it is a school rule doesn’t make it a CYA. (Kinda like paranoia :]). And yes you need to follow school rules if they have rules about this. As an aside CYA is not always a bad thing. Consequences of even completely baseless misconceptions can be severe. All team members need to be trained on what is appropriate communication and what to do policies are violated.
A lot of traffic? Only 572 emails for me since we switched to our new e-mail (school-based G Suite) in May. Granted, some of those I have automatic filters set up for so they don’t bug me - There are some daily status emails that get blasted to all teachers, staff, and coaches (such as attendance lists - if a student misses school for any reason, they can’t attend after school activities that day). But most of them are generated by the team itself. Over half are from Google Docs e-mails as stuff we’re working on gets updated, comments get replied to or resolved.
But anyways… even at 572 emails over the past ~100 days, that’s only 6 emails per day. I had 9 emails on my personal account, and another 24 on my work account yesterday. 5 emails a day really doesn’t have that big of an impact, especially if many of them I can archive just reading the subject line. If people have trouble with this… create a separate email account for robotics stuff to help you focus where and when you need to.
The practice of copying other mentors does much more than CYA. It really helps with whole team communication, so others know what the plan is when you aren’t available. The last thing we want is for a student to get direction one way over email, then show up at a meeting and be told something completely different.
We also have a school-mandated rule to copy parents on communications. That may feel a bit more like CYA, but on the flip side… these are teenagers we’re dealing with. They spend a lot of time with us, and when they get home for dinner and their parents ask “how was your day”, they reply with “fine”. “What did you do today?” “Stuff”. Teenagers aren’t known to be the best communicators when it comes to their parents, keeping the parents in the loop can help open up those communications for them.
Copying parents in also has the advantage of increasing the odds that a message will be received in a given household. This assumes occasional parent to student interaction of course.
Our general email list has both parent - or equivalent - and student emails. For specific situations I will copy the relevant mentor and/or parent. Texts are used less but there too we have parents in the general system.
That being said we continue to struggle with getting information to the proper people in a timely fashion. Being an off school based team with minimal school district involvement likely adds additional drag.