We all know that great schools have strong communication protocols with parents. The research is quite clear that children benefit when educators and parents are in constant communication with one another. However, among secondary school parents, 66 percent do not agree that teachers keep them informed about classroom activities, events and requirements (National School Public Relations Association 2011). Fewer than one in four parents can name a basic milestone that their child should have learned in school over the previous year (Public Agenda 2012). We need to do better. We need to have several tools in our communication tool belt. With that said, here are five ways to increase communication with parents.
- Social Media
I love Twitter. I have found it to be one of the best ways to show parents what is happening at the school throughout the day. I take pictures of great teaching, learning, and special events, and tweet them out several times per day. It only takes a few seconds to snap a picture, write a caption, and tweet it. A 2015 Pew Research Center study revealed that 68% of adults in America own a smart phone. Creating a school or classroom Twitter account could reach the vast majority of your parents.
- App-based Communication
Over the years, dozens of ed-tech companies have created app-based school communication tools. Some of the best I’ve seen are as follows: Class Dojo, TeacherKit, Schoology, and Remind. While they serve different functions, they all are great in creating secure platforms for communication. Big bonus: The apps are free.
- Coffee With The Principal / Donuts With Dads
The idea is simple. Parents are tired. Give them coffee and a relaxed atmosphere and they will come back again and again. Don’t create a jam-packed agenda. Keep it light and just have a conversation. Want to get more dads involved at the school? Try a Donuts for Dads meeting. What is a dad’s favorite donut flavor? Two donuts.
- One Call Per Day
Parents rarely get positive phone calls. However, when it does happen, you make the parent’s and the child’s day. Imagine if all staff members made one positive phone call home per day. That’s potential hundreds of calls per week.
- Video Conferencing
Schools need to change their thinking on parent conferencing. Sure it is nice for everyone to be in the same room. However, due to work schedules and other obligations, it can be difficult for parents to make a meeting with their child’s teacher before or after school. There are several free video conferencing tools out there including Google Hangout that can be used to virtual meet with parents more often. Furthermore, teachers can scan in and share work sample with parents online.
Dr. David Franklin is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions.