By Lauren Steinmann
The New Year is a chance to start fresh, making it a good time to re-evaluate not just your health or personal life, but the goings-on in your classroom as well.
While each classroom has its own set of needs and problems, one of the most common issues stems from poor parent-teacher communication and not knowing what’s happening in the classroom.
Nearly one quarter of parents surveyed by Parenting magazine and the National Education Association reported feeling shut-out from the collaborative process, which includes being able to provide input or participate in school-related events.
This frustration could be the result of how you communicate with parents. Ask yourself: Are you relying on handouts and emails to share important information with families? Do you find that these handouts and reminders get ‘lost in translation’ through students? Are you frustrated by parents who never seem to receive the emails or phone messages you send?
If so, resolve to improve parent-teacher communication in your classroom. Perhaps that parent frustration will dissipate along with your paper newsletters and empty inbox. Here are six simple tools to help make your resolution a reality.
A whopping 91 percent of adults use cell phones and 96 percent use text messaging. This makes text messaging-based communication valuable and likely more effective.
Remind (formerly Remind101) is a safe and free way to text students and parents in your class without using your own phone number. After quickly signing up (The site claims it only takes 15 seconds!), students and parents can sign up for your class by texting your class number.
Now, as part of the class texting group, they can begin receiving text reminders from you. Use this tool for field trip reminders, last minute assignment changes, and more.
Twitter is a fantastic resource for teachers but can also be an easy way to ‘promote’ your class and students to parents and the school community. Use a classroom Twitter account to keep parents in the loop, remind students about upcoming assignments, and share pictures of learning in action.
If you’re not sure about this tool, See how Twitter changed teacher Nicole Long’s classroom for the better.
Kidblog is one of my favorite parent-teacher communication resources because it allows students to report on what’s happening in the classroom rather than the teacher. As a teacher, you create a free class account and students blog from there. Once signed up, encourage students write about what’s happening in the classroom and what they’re learning about. Not only can Kidblog be a great communication tool, but it’s useful for assessment as well.
Smore allows you to create beautiful online flyers and newsletters that can be emailed to parents. The web-based program is free and has pre-designed templates that make creation quick and easy. After sending, check the built-in analytics to see how many people have viewed your email. This is perfect for monthly newsletters, quarterly updates or important classroom announcements.
BuzzMob is a customized social networking app for schools. Teachers, students and parents can communicate, share photos and videos, chat, and more. The power of this app lies in the school community, so it may not work for every campus.
6. Learning Management Systems (ie Haiku or Edmodo)
Many schools and Districts around the country are turning to Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as Edmodo and Haiku to assist with parent-teacher communication. An LMS can help you manage assignments, share homework and calendars, and distribute messages quickly and effectively.
If you already have an LMS in place, ask yourself: Am I using this tool to its full potential? What would streamline the use of this tool in my classroom? The answers may alleviate many communication struggles in your class.
Whatever tool you use, evaluate how it’s working on a regular basis to determine how effective it is for you, your students and parents. By focusing on parent-teacher communication, you’re strengthening the important connection between home and school; don’t let this fall by the wayside in 2015.
Improve Parent Involvement With a Learn2Earn Read-A-Thon .