Staying connected is both more important and more challenging than ever nowadays. Parents and teachers alike want to ensure their students’ success, so what’s the best way to make that happen? Simple: great communication.
Teachers know what’s going on in the classroom, and parents know what’s going on at home; together, their expertise is essential to understanding each learner and how to nurture their growth.
The benefits of parent-teacher communication are incredibly valuable: to name just a few, they include:
- Improved understanding of student motivation
- A complete picture of strengths and growth opportunities
- Consistency of expectations
- Improved engagement in class
- ....the list goes on!
Any one of these benefits alone could be a game-changer for a student, so it’s well worth the extra diligence to start on the right foot with effective, respectful, and proactive communication.
This has been a school year that requires a high degree of creativity to keep kids progressing and growing, and communication between parents and teachers is no exception!
So, let’s take a look at six tools that can help teachers and parents save time, stay organized, and connect in the best interest of their students.
The best ways for teachers to communicate with parents can vary based on the learner’s needs, but there are some key essential ingredients: respect, honesty, proactivity, and - above all - a mutual commitment to the student’s progress.
The right tools will make this quality communication easy; each is designed for clarity and support of student success, plus - music to any teacher’s ears - are efficient and manageable even with the busiest school schedule.
Any one of these would have been invaluable to me when I was teaching, and each tool is teacher-tested and approved. Of course, there’s no one-size-fits all method, but these provide an excellent starting point for leveling-up communicating with parents.
1. Build an interactive classroom website
Classroom websites have come a long way from early days of just posting a syllabus! Nowadays, a high-quality class site can do that, naturally, plus so much more.
Sharing a class calendar will make communication instant and easy. Google Sites makes document linking seamless; parents can have everything from homework assignments to project directions, and important deadlines at their fingertips. That’s (at least a handful) fewer emails for them to write and for teachers to read!
Wordpress is another great option; a class blog parents subscribe to can keep them up to date with examples of their student’s work, sharing important announcements, and more. These platforms allow teachers to spread the word about important information with students and parents alike.
2. Utilize a free learning management system
For teachers looking to simplify and find multi-purpose tools, a LMS like ClassDojo or Schoology could be just the ticket. Not only are they some of the best free resources for teachers, these websites can make parent communication a breeze (along with other educator essentials).
ClassDojo is widely praised for its positive behavior reinforcement and classroom management ideas. Too often, parent communication is about a behavioral issue or a concern about grades; consider ClassDojo the remedy. Teachers can share photos, drop a quick line to share a win, and disseminate other valuable information with parents.
Similarly, Schoology makes quick, frequent communication straightforward. Plus, the site has built-in compatibility with other great tools like Nearpod, Google Drive, and BrainPop.
3. Craft templates to save time
Looking for a low-tech solution? We can hardly blame you for wanting to take a break from screens, and there are plenty of old-school methods that can improve parent communication.
But hand-written, detailed notes home can be time consuming, and it’s not always clear how parents are expected to respond. Enter: printable templates that make it easier to communicate with parents and collaborate in the best interest of the student.
Of course, crafting personalized templates is an option. If pressed for time or looking for a starting point, check out these parent-teacher communication templates for elementary students and these free printable parent contact logs for secondary students.
4. Try messaging reminders
Some teachers are comfortable with distributing their personal phone numbers with parents, and that’s admirable! However, it’s also perfectly understandable to want to keep that info private.
With school messaging apps like Remind, it’s easy to send announcements, questions, activities, and even great questions to ask their children about the day’s learning.
Likewise, parents can reach out to teachers with questions and create two-way communication without needing to sift through emails.
Teachers can also communicate easily with their students’ families and pause notifications for that healthy work-life balance.
5. Explore the potential of student tools
Teachers might be surprised to learn that the tools they need to improve communication with parents are already at their fingertips and integrated into their classroom routines.
Google Drive, for instance, is a great way to share student work with parents instantly, so consider asking for that next assignment in a shareable format. Taking screenshots to attach to email correspondence is a great way to add visuals with students’ families and help get everyone on the same page.
It’s worth setting up a quick meeting with a tech coordinator to ask about what programs are already in place that might have communication applications. It doesn’t hurt to ask, right?
6. Host virtual office hours
Parent teacher conferences are incredibly valuable, but most take place just twice a year. So, teachers should consider inviting their students’ parents to a virtual “office hour” meeting over Zoom or Google Hangouts.
There are so many ways to do this! Teachers could host a monthly open-invitation meeting, choose who should attend, or use Calendly so students’ families can select from a set availability to chat. It can be incredibly valuable to include students in these meetings too!
Parents looking to ensure these meetings are valuable can use a parent teacher conference checklist to guide the conversation (even if it’s not technically conference season, these tips and tricks will still be useful)!
Get the ball rolling
For teachers, the best time to communicate with students’ families is always. Really! It’s always a good idea to reach out with wins, concerns, and anything else that might support a child’s development.
Sometimes parents need to get a little creative with teacher communication too, and this guide to how to get extra help in school can get things started on the right foot.
It’s all about communication, right? There’s no time like the present to get the ball rolling.