Face to Face when you can, Technology when you cannot. Without a doubt, nothing replaces or is better than face to face communication. This applies to your students as well as their parents. In elementary school, this face to face communication with students lasts most of the school day. As kids move into junior high and then high school, the individual contact with their teachers starts to diminish. This is where solid communication tools offer great educational benefits to the teacher. Here are a few ideas for keeping up the communication with students.
- Having an online component to your classroom using CMS or Google Classroom that is accessible 24/7.
- Sharing a folder with students using Google Drive that contains up to date information for class.
- Emailing students using their district Gmail account. This can be done through Outlook, or a special block in CMS.
- Using third party technologies like Twitter, Remind, and others to be able to contact students on their schedule.
Relationships with parents are equally, if not more, important to foster. Because we do not see them on a day to day basis, communication with parents is unquestionably more difficult. The can make relationships more difficult to maintain. Here are a few tips for using technology to establish, develop, and maintain relationships with families.
- Use your website. And we mean, really use it. Not just as a place for your face and a schedule, but as a true communication tool. Unless you make it clear otherwise, you website is your public face. It is where parents will go first if they are looking for what their child is doing in class. You can insert a calendar into your Schoolwires page and update it with your Unit Topics, big projects, or assignment deadlines. If you have another place on the web that you maintain and want your parents/students to be directed to, put that link on your Schoolwires page.
- Blog. Teacher's Corner is maintained through the Unit 5 blog system. It uses Wordpress, and is available for all teachers in Unit 5. It's easy to use, and blog entries are a great way to give quick updates to the public about your class. You can discuss class projects, post images of what's going on in your class, or do a daily homework post. There are many teachers throughout the district already using U5 blogs to communicate with parents and build relationships outside of the classroom.
- Skyward. Our gradebook system is not only for entering grades. Try out features like the Messaging Center to send mass emails to parents about upcoming events. These messages, once sent, also create a place in their Family Access for replying without having to email you directly. You can also consider putting comments along with the individual grades that you assign your students. These comments appear on their Student/Family Access screens and can be a nice way to provide context on an assignment.
- Third Party Technologies. Just as you might use Twitter or Remind with your students, you can extend that communication with parents.
No matter the technique you use, it is indisputable that communication builds relationships, and relationships are the foundation of communication. If you are interested in working on any of these communication tools with your building or district technology coaches, please let us know.