How To Work With Parents To Create Better Learning Environments

parentteacherGetting parents involved in the education process can speed up their children development and offer a more comprehensive perspective over their inner drive to knowledge. Offering parents easy access to information about students and school can give teachers the liberty to plan new projects and benefit from the support of tutors. Start by reading Shelley Wrights’ story. She is one of the teachers who managed to make a difference for her students. Having parent approval can let educators see outside the four walls of the class and plan field trips and fun activities for students.

So what kind of tools do you need to connect with parents? Well, first of all you have to know what kind of devices they use and where can you find them online. The rule that you apply when introducing tools in the classroom according to students’ knowledge and preferences, the same applies when selecting apps to smoothen communication with parents. The variety is quite impressive, with a little research you can get amazing results. Here are some ideas in this matter that can inspire you.

Have A Website

Think of it as a controlled platform where you can place all the information which needs to reach either your students, their parents or the general public. A website allows you to engage in communication, share projects and even practice blogging with your students. It is easy to access by parents and can be a reliable source of getting information regarding activities, changes that may occur in the school environment and many more. To create a website with ease you can use Wix, it can give access to all the needed resources to build a handy website, has an intuitive editor and you do not need any programming or design knowledge to have your website up and running. You can also use blogging platforms like WordPress or Blogger which are free to use.

Podcast Your Newsletters

If you see that parents are tech oriented but do not always have the time to read emails, maybe they are keen on listening. If they are audio books fans, they will certainly appreciate a podcasted newsletter. They can learn all about what happened in their children’s’ school in just a few minutes, while doing their job, driving or whatever other task. You can create the newsletter monthly or share it on special occasions. Personalize the newsletter for every class and include information about students, projects or other activities that might come around. One tool to do this is SoundCloud or MixCloud, they are free to use and easy to share.

Use Social Media

Although some remain skeptical about the use of social networks, if your students’ parents have a social media presence, then you have to create one too. Even if you do not communicate personally, you can create communities and share common knowledge about your class. For example you can create a closed group on Facebook and share pictures taken at school, students’ projects, create polls and seek their opinion. Moreover, you can use platforms like Pinterest and let them visualize student boards. Even Twitter can come in handy if you design a special hashtag for discussion when a decision needs to be made, let them share their thoughts and reach the most suitable outcome together.

Solicit Feedback

A form builder can help you in many ways. One of its attributions in this case is to create feedback forms. Seeking parents’ point of view can determine the result of any new initiative. Student need to leave their comfort zone to actually learn new things about themselves and truly develop. This way you can plan field trips, register to competitions and find all the opportunities that await outside the walls of a school. To have parents backing you in this kind of initiatives, you can use parental consent forms (http://www.123contactform.com/free-form-templates/Parental-Consent-Form-705311/). A versatile form builder to help you in creating such forms and surveys is 123ContactForm. It offers many features, it is simple to use and most surely it will facilitate communication with parents.

Stream Live

It is a good idea if you want to enable a sense of involvement for parents, especially if they desire to participate in class activities. You can establish a day per week when you have some special activities like project presentation, organize a small play or other creative activities. You can let parents see how their children behave, how they get involved and how they develop skills in time. For live streaming you can use Google Hangouts on Air, which can be recorded and then posted on your YouTube Channel or simply use Skype and let them join whenever they want.

The most proper way to use all these tools, it would be to send a feedback/information form for parents and learn if they use devices or tools, learn which ones specifically and ask if they would be open to new tech savvy approaches. After finishing this research, it would be a good time to build your website if you do not own one already. And the fun part begins here. If you make a loop and lead all your communication channels towards your website, you have created the perfect environment where you, parents and students can talk, share and come up with new, better ideas to facilitate learning. You can use all the tools above and share your newsletter, feedback forms, live streaming and other creative ideas to connect parents.

Initiatives are more easily realized if parents encourage them. So do you have their support? Which approach do you find most effective in communicating with them?

 

2 Comments

  1. Dale Borgeson

    October 21, 2013 at 1:43 am

    Great ideas Laura! I’m sure that all teachers could easily incorporate one or more of your suggestions.

    • Laura Iancu

      October 28, 2013 at 9:22 am

      Thank you, Dale! I would be glad to hear how other teachers manage to work together with parents.