I had a good response from parents. Generally they liked knowing what we had been up to but also were appreciative of being informed about when things were due and other important dates. Parents found this easy because it was right there, attached to the email and was only a click away. At the end of the year some parents had printed out the newsletters and created a book of memories for their child, which was nice for me to see as it made me feel that my efforts had been appreciated.
- BCC the group email - so you are not sharing parent email addresses with other parents
- Do not commit to set Newsletter schedule (weekly etc..). This puts the pressure on you to maintain it. Instead call them "Issues" and send them out when you have time and/or something to actually write about.
- Photos! That is what the parents want to see - show them their kids in action!
Class Websites and Blogs
So, prior to the commencement of the school year I spent some time putting together my class website. By some time, I mean hours! It took a long time. Partly because I am fussy, but partly because you are building a website - it is going to take time, end of story! I was proud of the result and was able to provide the link to my class before the school year even started, which excited the kids greatly. I noticed their comments on my blog posts pouring in over the school holidays.
- blogging - what we were doing
- forum - student discussions and collaboration
- posting documents - assignments, letters home and other resources
- photo galleries - camp, excursions, in the classroom
- digital submissions - right to your email inbox which allowed digital homework and assignment submissions
Sounds amazing right - it was! The kids loved it and I loved their enthusiasm.
The problem - parents were not really accessing it. The website was password protected to help ensure student safety. What this meant however was now parents has to bring up the website and type in a password before navigating to my newest blog/ photo gallery or other resource. Not just one click away like the e-newsletter.
Keep in mind, this doesn't mean you shouldn't give a class website a try! My tips are:
- Use something like Weebly, Wix, Blogger or Wordpress - why bother with HTML and CSS if you don't have to right?
- Consider safety and privacy - password protection is strongly advised or at very least get parental consent for their child's images to be used online.
- Start small - you don't have to have it all right away - websites can grow with you!
- Give the kids reasons to visit the website - post discussion questions, assignments or photos
- Share the link and password with parents and keep reminding them it is there - I would email out "Blog Bulletins" every so often to draw my parents back to my blog.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment or ask questions below.
Until next time...
Remember that you are the driver and technology is just the vehicle.