Sunday, August 11, 2013

Starting the Year Off Right: Parent Communication

Consistent and relevant parent communication is essential for a good school year. Luckily, there are many great tools that make communicating with parents relatively easy. First, Remind101 provides a free and safe way for teachers to communicate with students and parents. After signing up for a free account, you create your classes. Remind101 then  provides you with a phone number and a separate code for each class. Parents and students simply send a text message with the code to the number given by Remind101. They are then subscribed to any messages you send out for that class. Parents and students can also signup for email updates, but this is not as obvious. If you click on the print button on the left hand side of the screen, it will create a PDF with the instructions for signing up for text messages and email messages. Now you are ready to send out alerts to parents and students. Just click on a class, type a message, and then hit send. It is blasted out to everyone who is subscribed. You can even tweet the message to a class Twitter account.

Google also provides tools that help with parent communication. Google Voice is a web service that allows you to create a phone number that anyone can call or text message. When parents call the number they can leave a message, when is then transcribed to text and sent to your email. This allows parents to contact you easily while maintaining your privacy. Gmail is also an excellent way to keep in contact with parents. At the beginning of the year, have parents provide you with an email address. Then create a contact list with the emails. Now you can send out messages to parents with one click of a button.

Class websites are an important tool for keeping parents informed. My school uses the free web service Schoolloop for our school website. I put up basic class information and I also post our class agenda online for any students who are absent.

A class blogger is another way to give parents a window on what is happening in the classroom. Each week assign one student to create a short blog post about what they learned that week. This way parents can check in and see what is happening in class from a student's perspective. This also provides accountability for the student whose turn it is to blog that week. Online blogging services for students like Kidblog make this easy.

In addition, learning management systems like Edmodo are an easy way to extend your class outside of its four walls. Students can help each other, ask questions, and even complete assignments from home. Edmodo also provides a code for parents so that they can stay involved with their child's online work.

Finally, and most importantly, don't pass up opportunities to meet with parents face-to-face. Technology can make you more available, but a live meeting makes you more personal.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for maintaining this blog Jonathan! In the past I have given my number to parents and haven't had any problems, however, the possibility was always there. Great tools!