Used properly, email is a great way to communicate with a very high percentage of the the parents. The vast majority of students have at least one parent who uses email for either work and/or personal business so obtaining both emails for both (when available) parents is your best bet for avoiding phone tag and lost notes (middle schoolers are notorious for that) and should be done very early in the school year along with work and personal phone numbers.
Try to stick with either the @twain239.org or @schools.nyc.gov email addresses. You keep your personal stuff private and it looks more professional. The @twain239.org email system is based on Google's GMail system and has enough storage to keep old correspondence til you retire.
A running record of correspondence is readily available when documentation is asked for
Minimizes the inevitable "lies" parents will claim you made to them by phone or in person
Helps minimize time-consuming phone tag situations
More efficient if you need to contact a substantial number of parents
Easily forward emails to your colleagues and administration if they need to be involved
A large segment of the population does its business electronically and you look out of touch when you resort to paper-based communications.
A "reply" is proof that the message got through.
When you put it in writing, you're more committed so you need to exercise more caution. This is a two way street.
You need to have access to a computer or Smart Phone like the iphone, blackberry, etc. Those phones can absolutely be made to work with our @twain239.org system. I've done it. Advanced feature phones probably work too.
You lose the tone and non-verbal communications aspect in an email so you often have to be more explicit as to the facts and seriousness.
You need to re-read what you've written before you press send because you're putting your thoughts out there for further analysis and misinterpretation so keep the messages brief, factual, and as positive as you can spin it. In some cases, the emails can simply be for scheduling purposes to set up the phone call or meeting.
When in doubt about what you've written, consult with a trusted colleague or supervisor before you press send.
Keep the emails as upbeat as possible given the situation just like you should during open school week conversations.