Effective parent-teacher communication is critical to student success. However, this aspect of classroom management can be a real challenge for many teachers. It can sometimes be a struggle to get parents involved at all, while “too much” involvement can generate lots of emails and phone calls for teachers to answer, adding to already heavy workloads. Since enhanced parent-teacher communication can both build a better classroom and positively impact students’ classroom performance, it pays to be proactive in setting up an effective method of parent-teacher communication from the start. An up-front investment of time can yield many long-term benefits:
- Parents will know what’s going on in the classroom. When everyone’s in the loop, at-home conversations about schoolwork will be more productive. Parents will feel empowered and will work with you as allies to help their children succeed.
- You will have more time and energy to focus on teaching. Believe it or not, the more you proactively reach out to parents (and students) as a group, the less time you’ll spend reacting to questions and concerns over email or by phone. When questions do arise, they’ll be more informed and constructive.
- Students will be more accountable for their own learning. With clear expectations and a supportive team of in-the-know parents and teachers, students will be more likely to perform and do their best work.
Considering the plethora of easy-to-use technology available today, effective parent-teacher communication can be a snap. Below are a few tools you can begin using right away to quickly and easily enhance parent-teacher interaction:
Remind allows you to send immediate, up-to-date information to anyone with a text message-capable cell phone. With Remind, updates can be sent to an entire class or to a group of classes. This app also allows students, parents, and teachers to interact privately or in groups.
For other ways to message in this manner, consider ClassDojo Messenger, Bloomz, or ParentSquare.
This app offers a more personalized and meaningful way for you to connect with parents. With Seesaw, you can go beyond simple messaging to start conversations with individual parents about their child’s classwork. If you are considering a social feed of students’ work, Seesaw will let you do this. Seesaw’s most awesome feature is that it allows you to show parents all the great things their children are doing in class.
For a portfolio option with a built-in gradebook, check out FreshGrade.
Most parent-teacher conversations tend to be about grades. Fortunately, an online gradebook can keep parents up to speed on their child’s class progress. MasteryConnect is a standards-focused grading platform with solid reporting tools. To kick off a constructive dialogue, MasteryConnect allows you to contextualize students’ progress when sending messages to parents.
For a standards-based grading alternative, check out JumpRope.
If you are looking to engage parents and students on the web, a blog is a great option. Whether daily, weekly, or otherwise, you can create your own blog and post at a pace that best suits you and your parent audience. Tackk’s value resides in its versatility and options for creativity. By creating visually-appealing and design-forward pages, your posts will engage parents (and students!) in on-going conversations about learning. You can explore Tackk’s privacy settings to find an option that works best for you and your class’s needs.
Another blogging option to check out is Edublogs.
While messaging apps and mobile-friendly platforms are fast and efficient ways to reach most parents, don’t forget how useful a class webpage can be as a catchall for general class information. For years, Weebly has provided solid, free website options for teachers. It’s never a bad idea to offer students and parents a one-stop shop for your class with links and other information that can be valuable year-round.
It goes without saying that you should always keep the privacy of your students and parents in mind no matter what type of on-line communication tool you are using: never post anything to a public forum that contains anyone’s personally identifiable information. It is also important be very aware of what “private” really means on various social platforms. As always, no matter what platform is being used, it’s best to keep posts brief, informative, and professional.
6. Teacher Kit
Teacher Kit is a great free app that helps teachers organize their classes. Teacher Kit can store a host of data on anything from grades and behaviour to attendance and general communication. Once entered into the program, information can be shared with parents via email. We love Teacher Kit for its simplicity.
Appletree, formerly BuzzMob, is a free app designed to make teachers’ lives easier and help them connect in meaningful ways. Its power lies in its ability to connect all stake-holders, including administrators, teachers, parents and students, via a location-based platform. Appletree has some impressive features such as allowing teachers to share assignments, send memos, set event and deadline reminders for parents, and send out cancellations. It even has a chat feature. For us, this app is an all-around winner.
Have you adopted technology as part of your parent-teacher communication strategy? If so, please share with us, we’d love to hear about more exciting ideas.