Why are permission slips important?
I’ll never forget the first permission slip I had to send out as a brand new teacher. Being an adult, I was pretty far removed from the concept of a permission slip and it was lost on me as to why I even needed to send one out at all for the movie we were watching in class. I had no idea how to create a permission slip or what information needed to be contained in one. Naturally, I went to my mentor teacher to speak to him about what permission slip ideas he had or had implemented in the past. After that conversation, I was equipped with a better understanding of the importance of permission slips and how they can be used as a vital means of communication to help alleviate any potential headaches with students as well as their parents. It is my hope that this article saves you from some of the trouble I went through before sending out my first permission slip.
One of the best ways to get parent support in the classroom is with consistent and clear communication. As educators in the digital age, we have access to a plethora of avenues for instant communication. One avenue we often overlook comes in the form of the humble permission slip.
Now, the significance of a permission slip goes beyond the simple legal necessity of gaining a parent or guardian’s permission to do whatever activity you have planned. It is also a form of necessary communication to the parent who wants to know exactly what their scholar will be doing. Keeping the families of your students as informed as possible about what you’re working on in class will help to increase student and parent engagement in both curricular and extracurricular activities.
The basic purpose and idea behind a permission slip is to inform the parent or guardian of an activity that your class will be doing and acquire their consent for their scholar to participate. As mentioned prior, it is also an important form of communication from teacher to parent. A permission slip functions as a means of explanation and clarification for what the parent should expect their scholar to see and experience during a particular school sanctioned activity.
Providing a clear explanation to the parent or guardian helps them make an informed decision regarding their child’s educational experience. GIving the families a feeling of active participation will also allow for a better parent/teacher relationship in the long run.
When should you send out a permission slip?
So when should you send out a permission slip? If you’re planning an activity either inside or outside of the classroom, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are we going to be watching a film that has an age rating higher than the age of my students?
- Are we watching a film or play that contains some kind of mature content?
- Are we going to be leaving campus for any length of time?
- Are we going to be doing a classroom activity that has potential safety concerns (e.g. performing certain science experiments).
- Does the activity/lesson I have planned conflict with certain religious faiths (e.g. performing in a holiday/seasonal concert).
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s best for you to send out a permission slip. Even if it’s not required by your school in certain cases, the parents will still appreciate being informed about the activity.
What information should be in a permission slip?
When writing your permission slip, make sure you cover the basics. Here are some ideas for what to include:
- Where is the class going?
- What will the class be watching?
- What is the activity the class will be doing?
- Why is the class doing this and how does this relate to the curriculum?
However, there are a few other tidbits of information you can include to provide a greater context as well as increase the likelihood of the student being allowed to participate.
If you are watching a movie you want to contextualize how it fits into your curriculum and how the students benefit from watching the film. You should also clearly lay out any mature content that may be in the film as to give the families an idea of what to expect.
During my school year, I taught United States History and we finished the year watching a film set during the civil war. Due to the context, racial slurs are used throughout the film. I made a point in my permission slip to explain to my scholars’ parents/guardians the content within the film and how I felt that watching a film that did not “sugar coat” the difficult parts of our nation’s history would help to bring to life the realities of difficult historical events.
If you are planning on taking your students on a field trip, tell the families where your class will be traveling to and the cost associated with the trip. Then, explain why you feel the trip would benefit their understanding of the curriculum or content you are covering at the time. What kind of information you should include will depend on where you plan to take the students. If it’s a trip where the students will be very active or moving around a lot, you want to go over all of the precautions and preparation for student safety that will occur (doubly so for those field trips that take us out into nature).
If the field trip is to a museum, a play, or something similar, then you should cover what kind of exhibits will be viewed or the name of the performance. When it comes to seeing a play, make sure parents are informed of any mature content that may be in the play. Pretty much all of Shakespeare’s plays, for example, contain some raunchy material so it’s best to let the parents know ahead of time.
For any new teachers, I hope some of these permission slip ideas help you get a running start when it comes to going on those first field trips or watching a movie the first time with your class. For anyone that’s been in the teaching profession for a while, I hope that I illuminated some new strategies for you to utilize. It may seem like the most mundane and innocuous thing, but something as simple as sending out a permission slip and what you put in it can lay the groundwork for a better partnership with the families of your scholars.