Communication with parents remains one of the largest challenges for teachers. The facts are that teachers are busy people....but so are parents - so as a teacher, how do we find a way to effectively communicate with our parents that doesn't put a strain on our valuable time or theirs?
Over the past two years, I have used both newsletters and a class website to communicate with parents. I have also worked extensively with ClassDojo and Edmodo, which also have their own angle on communication with parents - but those stories will have to wait for another day. In this blog, I want to share what I discovered about e-Newsletters and Class Websites.
My class newsletters were simple enough to create. I just made them in Microsoft Word and saved them as a PDF to prevent any design issues as parents opened them on their different technology. I then attached it to a group email and sent it out to my parents. Most teachers can create a document using Microsoft Word and so I was not really breaking any new ground here, but I did find it easy and effective. Once I had my template created, I just edited it every week with new key dates, photos and little blurbs about what we had been doing and sent it on its way.
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.
Want to try doing your own class e-newsletter? Here are some tips:
Class Websites and Blogs
I created my class website using Weebly (just as I have created this website). I have completed a course in Web Design and quite honestly cannot be bothered when Weebly makes it so easy (drag and drop - my Grade 3 kids could do it!)
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.
In the beginning the website was quite a novelty and I used it for everything:
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:
Both options have their merits and certainly the class website does much more and really borders on a Learning Management System (LMS) which I plan to cover in a future blog. BUT in terms of communicating with parents, I have to say the simple e-Newsletter wins out on its ease and timeliness of creation, plus its more direct delivery to parents. Not as fancy - no - but it does the job (and I forgot to mention the fact that as a digital method of communication, it's saving paper!)
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.
Read all about my thoughts on teaching in the 21st Century, my experiences with technology in the classroom, running a Maker Space, launching STEAM and Design Thinking with students, coding, robotics and much more!
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