Bringing technology into our classrooms helps teachers in a variety of ways. From bringing great multimedia and injecting real people and real life experiences into what might otherwise be bland lessons, to making grading and classroom management easier, more seamless processes, it might be easy to forget how we even did things before our devices were the staples of our school days.
The same stands true for connecting with parents. Gone are the days of having to make a phone call to a student’s home at a time when the parents were likely to be there to answer, or finding a mutually convenient time to have a face to face meeting together. Even parent-teacher conference nights, though still alive and kicking in many schools, are a fairly redundant practice since parents and teachers can be in touch at the button.
So are you making the most of the technology you probably already have to keep in touch with your students’ families? We’ve put together a collection of some of our favorite tech-centric ways to do just that. Have we included your favorites? Leave us a note in the comments if we’ve missed one of the must have parent communication tools in your toolbox!
Remind101 offers a safe and free way for teachers to text with students and parents. Rather than using traditional text messaging for groups, where everyone would be able to see others’ phone numbers, Remind101 keeps all of this data secure and no user (including the teacher) sees everyone’s numbers – the system even makes you a Remind101 number to keep your personal number private. Students and parents can sign up by sending a text message or email, meaning they don’t have to sign up for an account. Messages can be scheduled ahead of time, and the system is very simple to use.
Skype is a great free tool that can be used many different ways in the classroom, and connecting parents and teachers is one of them. Parents and teachers can be connected regardless of where the parent may be working or if they’re available to be present in the school for teacher conferences, special presentations or events. Teachers can even keep military families and parents who may live far away connected to their students.
Twitter is a really simple tool to keep parents up to date. You can create a class account and use it to announce homework, project due dates, tests and quizzes, and special events. Even if a parent is not a Twitter user (and doesn’t want to sign up for an account), they can use the Fast Follow functionality to sign up to receive Tweets from your class account via text message.
The Teacher App & Grade Book is a Google Play app that offers what is basically a portal for teachers, parents, and students. It includes a gradebook, messaging system (school-wide, class-wide, and for individual students and parents), an interactive class calendar, grades and assigment notes, absentee notices, and attendance records – among many other things. It is a pretty good resource for a one stop shop to keep parents connected to every part of their student’s class – including their grades, which many of the other tools don’t offer because they’re much more public forums.
Setting up a classroom blog can be a fun, interactive way to get parents engaged in their student’s work. Keeping it updated regularly keeps parents up to date, and offers a safe online space for individual student’s work – so they can share it with whom they choose rather than putting things on a public forum. While it might require a bit more work than sending text updates or using Twitter, Edublog’s service is free and the online student pages are a great way to incorporate blogging in your class as well.