I like to keep very open lines of communication with my students’ parents.Parents want to be updated with what is going on with their child at school and the best thing for teachers to do is keep them in the loop and be transparent. However, there is little time for physical sit-downs or lengthy calls these days. The consumption habits of parents have also changed drastically as more millennials are becoming parents. More on-the-go mobile and online tools help to reach parents where they already are, on their phones or computers.
Here are some tools I have found helpful for communicating with parents in a 21st century way:
The Remind App – a simple way of texting parents to send out reminders, homework, or motivational messages for students straight to their phones. It’s a major time saver for busy teachers and parents and allows for keeping touch on-the-go. You can set designated “office hours” on the app to let parents know the best times to respond to “chat” on the app and lets parents send permissions slips, assignments, or voice clips straight from their phone. The app also lets teachers send reminders to all parents and allows you to see who has viewed the announcement.
A Class Website – a customizable way to set up your “online classroom” that can be a resource for parents and students. Teachers can keep everything in one place for parents by uploading documents to their website instead of having to send attachment after attachment in emails to parents. Creating your own class website is also becoming easier to do with the vast amount of online tools available that help even the least tech-savvy of us create something useful.
The Bloomz App – a kind of hybrid messaging tool and classroom website all in one app. This online tool allows parents to connect with their child’s teacher and other parents. It’s easy to keep parents involved with the “class updates” feature that allows for photo and video sharing, the class calendars with itemized events that can be linked to pages with additional information, and the communication feature that allows for sending messages with student timelines and behavior tracking. The app also has a “social networking” feel to it as it encourages sharing and “liking” posts from parents or teachers.
Last but not least, I take tons of pictures of our classroom lessons each year. I like to bundle a few months worth of photos up and make them into a fun slideshow with music on iMovie. I send them home to parents a few times during the school year. I have found it to be a great way for me to showcase students work to parents while also keeping in touch with them over more than an email or text message.\
Putting in time to keep in touch with parents and reach them where they are has shown great results. Try incorporating one of the techniques above into your parents-teacher communication routine and in your classroom this year!