Monday, March 14, 2016

A Teaching Pot of Gold: 5 Tips for Efficient Parent Communication

I am so excited to be back here at the Peach sharing some teacher tricks!  My post will hopefully make your year, well...a treasure ;).

When I first started teaching I would always gets annoyed when a child's folder came back fully stuffed with papers, obviously untouched.  I mean really, people?  How hard is it to check a folder?

Now that I am a parent I realize, it can be hard, very hard. And my girls are still in preschool!  I can imagine it will only get more difficult as the girls get older and we add dance and gymnastics and Wednesday night church to our plates.

I guess the trick is to make it as easy on parents as possible.  So how can you make this easy on YOU and the parents?  How can you increase parent involvement and communication? Here are a few easy tips.

When I was teaching I created a blog using Typepad.  It was easy to update during the week and  I was even able to add pictures of students during the week.  I also uploaded a copy of the monthly newsletter.

A friend of mine has created a private Facebook group. She loves it and so do her parents.  It might even be easier than a blog!  You can upload pictures and documents in a group and even add events to remind parents of special events like Open House, conferences, etc.

If you choose to do something online, just make sure the district approves this form of communication.  You also are going to want some kind of release form for photographs. Your school or district may already require one. Here are two examples I found. You can see them here and here.

I am sure you have heard all about Remind. It is an awesome and FREE way for teachers to keep in contact with parents. You can send text straight to your parent's phones while keeping your personal phone number private.  It is an ingenious idea! It would be great for reminders of dates, special events, returning library books a folders.

Send home sweet notes to the kids.  Parents love knowing positive things about their children.  I know it can be hard to find time to do, but is so important. Did you decorate your door in the beginning of the year?  I can't find a picture of mine, but here is an example I found online:

Instead of just tossing the die cut (or in this case the sweet little owl) into the trash or folder when you done, keep them! Write a note to the child on the back and staple it in their agenda randomly.  I kept all mine in plastic baggie.  When I had an extra second or two, I would pull out one or two.  Then I would write a note to the child and staple it in the agenda.  Stapling usually made it stay there long enough for parents to see it, too! 

 It was a win-win!  The kids felt good, the parents felt good, and was super simple for me since I had made the door at the beginning of the year.

Do you send home a newsletter?  I did one monthly.  Actually, I didn't.  My co-teacher did.  I was terrible at writing the newsletters. She was amazing.  We were a pretty good team! LOL! I struggled with newsletters because I felt parents did not read them.  When I wrote them, I only send home a newsletter once a month. She wrote one EVERY week.  I am telling you.  She was good! She included:
  • homework for the next week
  • specials rotation (art, PE, etc because it changed every week)
  • a calendar of upcoming events
  • important notes
  • enrichment ideas
Here is a sample of what ours looked like in February 4th, 2013.

She did a great job.

If you worry about parents reading your newsletter, I LOVE this article by Jennifer from Cult of Pedagogy.  She did a guest post for Laura Candler all about how to get parents to read your newsletter.  She even included FREE newsletter templates!

Any tips I left out?  How do you communicate with parents effectively?

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