An area that can make or break your year as a teacher is the relationship you have with the parents of your students. Keeping things positive is not always easy, but it is a must if your year, as well as your students’ year, is going to be successful. It is very difficult to maintain a positive attitude if you are being questioned at every turn. You feel the pressure and your students sense it as well.
In my opinion, one of the big downfalls with parent relationships is the lack of positive contact between teacher and parent. Most of the time when a teacher is contacting a parent it is for an issue that needs to be addressed (negative contact). It can get to the point to where a parent cringes every time they see the school’s number pop up on the caller ID. This needs to change.
An effort needs to be made to contact parents for the good things that are happening in school. There are many ways you can use technology to create and maintain a positive environment with your students and parents. In this week and next week’s post I will showcase some of my favorites.
A sure-fire way to get started is by investing your time in a teacher webpage or class blog. A blog allows you the opportunity to share thoughts, ideas, projects, and products with everyone. It allows you to showcase the fun side of school. Take pictures and videos of what is happening in your room and write a post about it. Parents LOVE to see their kids having fun while they are learning…and students LOVE to be able to show off what they are learning through fun projects and activities. Another great idea is to have your students be guest bloggers on your site. There is nothing cuter than trying to read a first graders blog post (NEVER as a teacher fix the spelling…that is what makes it even more special!).
Blogger.com and Google Sites (both owned by Google) are free to use and quite simple to set up and maintain. You can use Google Drive to upload and link to any documents you wish to share through your blog. Videos can be uploaded and linked from YouTube. Weebly.com is another option for blogs. It is very user friendly. It also allows you to create student accounts under your account for free. The app is nice as well…allowing you to snap pics as you’re going through the day and then post to the blog at your convenience straight from your mobile device. A blog is also a great place to house homework details, spelling lists, upcoming events, and study guides. Parents can visit one spot and have access to everything!
A word of caution to you. If you plan on using a class blog you must commit to it! If you start out blogging every week about what is happening parents will get used to it and look forward to seeing what is happening every week. They will make it part of their weekly schedule and look forward to that time. If all of a sudden you let this fall by the wayside and do not update, what was once a great positive will turn into a major negative. The worst thing you can do is give them something and then take it away. Make sure you are setting a schedule you will be able to keep. You can always add more posts in between, just make sure you are posting consistently whether it be weekly or bi-weekly.
Here is an example of a classroom blogger site that my wife has set up for her second grade classroom…
Here is an example of a 9 year old’s blog (my daughter). I had her start one to see how well she could adapt to Weebly. It took her no time at all to pick it up from both the web editor and the app.
A great way to quickly poll parents or gather information, such as contact information, is to use a Google Form. Forms are accessed through Google Drive. They are simple to set up. Click here to learn more about it. Once a form is set up, share out the link for parents or students to complete. All the information is placed into a Google spreadsheet where it can be filtered or organized any way you like. Export it out to Excel and utilize its functions to organize the information so it best suits you!
These are my first few ways I like to maintain positive contact with your parents this school year. Stop in next week to discover a few more!