Thursday, September 15, 2011

5 Ways to Connect with Parents

The school year is well under way and parents and teachers are already engaged in the dance of communication. We are all busy, so how can we find ways to connect that are respectful of one another's time and productive? Today's post highlights the use of technology to enable more effective and efficient home-school communication.

  • Use the school Email system as the primary mode of communication: This offers you the greatest way to track your school to home communications. It also respects the boundaries of the teacher to parent roles and relationship. 
  • Consider using Twitter: Teachers are using Twitter to advance their own professional development, stay current on what's happening in education, and to connect to their students and parents. Include a "Follow Me" button to Twitter on your website.
  • Create an engaging and current Website: Teacher websites are almost an expected part of doing business in this digital age. There are many free websites out there for teachers, but remember that your content should be engaging, current, and relevant to your followers (whether they are students and/or parents). 
  • Use Doodle to find mutually convenient meeting times: Doodle is an online scheduling and poll tool and it's FREE! You can use it to schedule meetings, conferences, or other events for your students and parents. If you want to get parents to weigh in on an issue, there is a poll tool you can use through Doodle as well. Include a button to this tool on your website.
  • Use SKYPE if parents are unable to get to a conference face-to-face: It isn't always easy to find a common time to meet with parents. Consider using SKYPE to meet virtually at an agreed upon time. You can also record the SKYPE conference using a tool called PAMELA which is a SKYPE add-on. And if you  have students who are absent and want to talk to you about what they are missing, they can SKYPE in. Again, this is a free tool and you can include the button to it on your website.
These are just a few of the electronic and social media tools that can better facilitate communication between school and home. I do not recommend Facebook just as I don't recommend giving out your personal email. However, you can create a private Facebook as a teacher that is only open to parents (not students). Your district may have policies on the use of Facebook. Make sure you follow your district's policy.

Happy Communicating!