A lot of emphasis has been given to getting parents involved in their child’s education, but with a teacher’s already full schedule and parents who are already stretched thin, this is not always easy to accomplish. Luckily, technology has intervened and come up with some very innovative solutions that make it quick and easy for a teacher to stay connected with parents.
Create A Class Website
Setting up a class website is a way for parents to see what is going on at their own convenience. It should feature a calendar that has highlighted all of the special events as well as test dates and special assignment due dates. It should only take the teacher a few moments to update the website and calendar weekly, adding in daily homework assignments, special announcements and achievements.
SMS Text Messaging
Cell phones have changed the way we communicate with everyone, SMS text messaging is a fantastic way for quick communications with parents. You could use a school notification system that sends the same message to all of the parents in your class at one time, or just one message at a time if necessary. This is a very flexible means of communication that even allows for parents to be polled if you are looking for volunteers for an upcoming field trip for example, or to message you back if they are unclear about an upcoming assignment or meeting.
Phone Calls Home
Parents should routinely have the opportunity for open conversation with their child’s teacher. You don’t have the time to call or meet with every parent every week, but you could manage a rotating schedule of one or two. Use text messaging to set up a convenient time for you and the parent and then allocate that time to answer any questions the parent may have, and to update them on their child’s progress in class. This is the perfect time to discuss with the parent the things they can be doing at home to help your students be more successful in class.
With the growth in cell phone use and text messaging, emailing has lost a lot of its appeal as a way of communication. It is still a great tool to use when you have a lot of news to share, want to send permission slips for an upcoming event, or need to share a list of names or assignments. Since everyone is not tuned in to their email account every day, send a quick message with your school notification system that lets the parents know to check their inbox for an important update.
Combining these four technological tools will give the teacher more time to focus on their primary purpose, educating young people, while parents can become an active part of that process. You will be amazed at how much more you can accomplish in one school term when you are no longer chasing down responses to notes that got lost in a bookbag.
How do you stay in touch with parents?
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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.