Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Leveraging Technology Tools to Improve Parent Communication

Communicating with parents can be a struggle. Between all the dial tones, scheduling headaches, and the PTA food coma resembling the hour after Thanksgiving feasts, there may be some missed opportunities during parent teacher conferences to deliver the information parents need to guide their child to academic success. If the mention of these problems is causing you to twitch a little, fear not. Teachers now have a plethora (love that word) of options to improve communication with parents without much extra time.

Here are 3 categories of communication and the digital tool I recommend for each.

1. Conferencing and Phone Calling

Google Hangouts- This app/chrome extension/website can be a great tool for sharing when a face to face is difficult. Teachers can start a basic chat with a parent or a video chat with Screen sharing to show student work either with the camera or viewing a digital student work. Teachers can even set up a Google Voice phone number to send calls from your school google account. The advantage of this is that parents will have the ability to voice mail or text you at a different number than your personal number, and you can manage the voicemails and texts can be filtered into your school email account (How cool is that? See here for more)

2. Sharing Student Results

Google Classroom Guardian Invite- This feature in Google Classrom, a free learning management system, sends parents a weekly or daily summary of what is due in class and what their child has/has not turned in. You can also email parents directly from Google Classroom and receive the response in your school gmail account. (Note: Parents will get one email for all of their classes, so your class information will be combined with the information from the student's other teachers. This keeps things simple for parents. (Note: Schoology has a similar feature for parents, for which they can learn about signing up here)

3. Communicating Due Dates and Events

Remind- This app is great for anonymous texting to and from parents and students. Parents and students can opt-in to receive class announcements and one-on-one chats (age 13 or older). Remind can be great for sending reminders of due dates, events, or sending information about changes to the plan for a particular class day ahead of time (teacher illness, pushing back an assignment, or requesting students bring something specific to class). Neither party has to share their phone number or email if they join the remind class using a code sent home by students. If the entire class has signed up, it can be a great communication tool. If you have less than 100%, it can still be an effective communication tool for students. They can ask for clarification of something that was said in class or they can ask for help with a homework assignment.