Determining how to reach the new set of parents is always at the forefront of teachers minds as they head back to school. Just like groups of students, every year brings different parents and the same communication methods don’t always work each year. Here is a list of suggestions for teachers rethinking their routines, wanting to mix it up a little this year.
1. Host your own Website
Link to the school resources parents need, mix with classroom news, post classroom requests, calendars, digtial citizienship policies and resources – make it ONE STOP SHOPPING! It can be a one page site, using free tools like S’more or Strickingly or use Weebly, Google Sites or WordPress to create one with pages, blogs and feedback forms built right in.
Make your classroom updates a two way conversation. Talk to the parents, get to know your audience. They can be your best resource. They could be the engineers, artists, authors, international experts, etc. you are looking for to bring in interesting real world perspectives for your students. By allowing for feedback, you can get to know the parents right away.
3.Podcast your newsletters
Many parents don’t always read the school newsletters. So take it is a challenge. See how many parents you can engage by using different mediums… it could be writing and blogging. But it could also be a podcast. Include student commentaries and interviews. Add some music or sound effects. Keep it to a good length that parents can listen in the car or during their walk or run. It does not have to perfect! I’m willing to bet you’ll soon find yourself with a loyal listening audience. Using Audioboo or Soundcloud, you can record and publish immediately.
4. Use QR codes
Make QR code buttons or magnets at the beginning of the year and send them home with students the first week. Link it up to your website, blog or your podcast feed.
Use a texting tool, like Remind101. It Makes it easy for teachers to schedule texts- one of the most reliable ways to get parents attention. Parents are crazy busy and quick last minute reminder of events that are out of the ordinary routine will reduce stress and create happier parents and families, in general.
6. Blow them away with Technology
When your students do something cool or something new, share it with them. Invite them in. Host a gallery walk using augmented reality, maybe after school and in the evening. Put the tech into the parents hands, when their own child pops up on the screen and starts explaining their own learning, it’s almost a guarantee that will get excited about what is happening in the classroom.
7. Host a movie night- Oscar style
Kick off the year by showing off student created videos. Don’t worry if they’re perfect (although a time limit might be good to keep the screening night to a reasonable length) parents will love to see and get to know all the kids.
8. Organize a Tech Fair
Schedule a special event early in the year for students to introduce the parents to different tools or apps. Students can create presentations about how they use those tools in class and for learning. Make it part of open house or back to school night. Let the students answer the questions about how tech is being integrated into the classroom- it’s a win/ win!
9. Make a class Twitter account.
I know it’s been said before, but Twitter is beginning to feel like a necessity. It’s as fast as texting and you can get quick messages and links out to large group in seconds. Plus, all you share is automatically archived so you, any student or parent can always scroll back to find the information again. If you have multiple classes, just keep one account and create a hashtag for each class. Twitter helps keep it as simple and quick as possible on the teacher end- leaving more time for you to spend with your students.
10. Livestream events in the classroom
Especially when the students are presenting or practicing public speaking, share it live. The technology is developing quickly, it’s easy and free. You could try a service like Ustream, or simply start a Google Hangout on Air and text or even tweet out the link with your new Twitter account! Two easy steps and you just flattened the classroom walls for the parents! The more welcome the parents feel, the stronger “team players” you will have throughout the year!