Staying in touch to keep open communication with parents at school used to be one of the hardest parts of this job for me. I am NOT good about picking up the phone and making calls during my planning or after school and no matter how many reminders I set for myself or how many times I make this a goal to improve each year, phone calls just don’t happen often enough for me. I’ll bet there are plenty of teachers out there that would say the exact same thing! Yet, working with and communicating progress with our school parents is extremely important! Here’s what I’ve found that has made ALL THE DIFFERENCE:
- ClassDojo – Watch this video on youtube for an intro to ClassDojo and some of the resources available in this AMAZING (FREE) app! My team and I share our classes with the resource teachers, the lunch team, our parents, favorite substitutes, etc. to keep our behavior management strategies uniform for our students throughout the school day. Those of you who know what it’s like to share your class with other teachers, know how important this is. My parents are also connected and can see their student’s behavior points, whether they are growth or grow points, and why their student is earning that point at any time of the day. I can message my parents one-to-one or send out whole group reminders. I can send pictures, videos, or text messages. This allows me to send updates or just some “yay” moments that allow my parents to help celebrate those moments with the class. Parents can message with questions or concerns, they don’t have to wait for you to initiate communication. Students can keep digital work portfolios for parents to see what they are working on in class. It really is an all-in-one resource for the classroom. Best of all, the parents that have connected with my classroom have given nothing but RAVE reviews about my communication throughout the year. Go to classdojo.com to learn more and set up your own class!
- Seesaw – Seesaw is a student-driven digital portfolio. Teachers can enable students to create, reflect, share, and collaborate; showing what they know through drawings, text, videos, photos, links, PDFs, and by uploading files from Google apps. It is FREE and easy to use, allows for parent connection, including the ability to comment on posts (if enabled by the teacher), offers a free “class blog” site to give your students more of a world-wide audience (again this must be enabled by the teacher), and no posts are uploaded without teacher approval. In my experience, parents LOVE being able to see their child’s work and send encouraging comments or suggestions to stay connected to their child at school! My students LOVE this site too. It has been a highly engaging addition to my classroom. I suggest browsing the resources section of this site for great ideas and PD opportunities to get the most out of your use of this AWESOME resource for your classroom!
- Google Classroom – This one is only available to teachers who have access to Google Apps for Education. It is a classroom website that enables the teacher to send assignments, announcements, questions, files, videos, and links to students and connected parents. Students can turn in their assignments directly on the Classroom assignment page and teachers can grade, comment, and send the assignments back for revision if necessary. The teacher has full control over what is added to the Classroom page, including frequent links or files used in the classroom. It can even be shared among teachers for team collaboration. Assignments can be differentiated and viewed while the students are working, allowing the teacher to check in and make suggestions before the work is turned in. Connected parents are able to track their child’s work and progress, making for more informed communication. I use this one DAILY in my classroom. This is truly a resource that has transformed my teaching!
I know there are other great apps and communication sites out there, but in my experience (and I’ve tried quite a few), these are the best! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like any more information about any of these classroom tools.