Parent communication is nerve-wracking in itself. Parents are trusting you to instill a year’s worth of knowledge in their student while keeping them safe, but allowing them to build relationships and skills (not only academic by socially as well). But, hey! Let’s go ahead and add in the first-year teacher jitters – where you want to make sure you at least look like your ducks are in a row – when in reality they are spread out in the pond, some bills down and tails up, without a care in the world.
Too much? Maybe.
Well, here is how I solved my parent communication troubles this year.
Open House Time
You all know it. The night where your cheeks hurt from smiling and your brain hurts from contemplating the many family make-ups, questions, concerns, and your seating chart. On the night of, start with a newsletter. This was the only newsletter I sent home last year. It was a struggle in itself having students pass home their Friday Folders, adding another sheet of paper onto it just felt like it was a waste of time. BUT, by giving them this newsletter face-to-face, I at least knew they received the information.
Here is an example of the newsletter I sent home with my parents at the Open House:
Make sure you obtain a parent e-mail list. I added each email to a spread sheet, which I then printed off along with their phone numbers and names – easy to contact when needed. I emailed my parents every Friday giving them a run-down on the following week. At the top, I included things that were important for them to know (upcoming dates, assignments, tests, etc.) Then I went through and wrote day-by-day when they should expect HW, important information, all of that great stuff.
Using the “Remind App” was something my parents told me time, and time again that they really enjoyed. Remind is a great website/app that allows you to send out group messages to whoever joins your class. It is simple to join and only requires text OR email to receive notifications. Plus it’s FREE! I would send out a Remind each night with that night’s HW assignments or things to remember for the following day. Parents told me this was a great resource because they did not have to rely on their student to tell them whether or not they had an assignment that night. The downside to Remind is that you are not able to send more than one picture at a time – something I would like to do with field trips and class activities.
Using GoogleForms, I wanted to make sure that parents were okay with how they were being notified. Like I said before, you don’t really know what you’re doing as a first year teacher. For me, I needed to be reassured. I created a GoogleForm that I sent to my parents asking how they preferred to be updated. This showed me that the weekly email and daily reminds was something that worked for them and for me. It wasn’t too overwhelming, but they enjoyed keeping updated with their student and our class.
Bloomz is something that I have heard of and have thought about implementing this year. It is somewhat like Remind, but is also able to share multiple pictures, and even incorporates a classroom management tool. Like Remind, parents only need e-mail in order to receive notifications.
There is a lot of worry about incorporating social media within your classroom. What are you able to share, etc. I do see the pros: easily communication, quick responses, and using something that is already well-known. I know teachers who have created a separate, private profile in order to keep parents updated. This way, our privacy is in tact and a line is still drawn. I have also heard of creating private Facebook groups that allow parents to see all classroom information in one spot, but not necessarily “friending” you (or any other parents) and seeing what you personally post.
Like all things in teaching and education, it’s what works with you and your style the best that matters most. The best thing about teaching is that you can try different things until you find something that works. The other great thing about teaching is that you can take as many ideas as you want and change them to fit you. With that being said, please feel free to comment how and what you use to communicate with your families.
I’d love to know!