Congratulations! Your classroom is ready to welcome students and a new year is set to begin. You probably have a plan for your classroom management and hopefully the first few weeks of lesson plans are in the books. Once you have nailed down the student/curriculum side of your job, it’s time to pay attention to another key element of teaching in an elementary school: the parents.
Many parents expect to enjoy open lines of communication with teachers. This can be a challenge in an elementary classroom setting. On the one hand, teachers should welcome parents’ interest in their children’s classroom routine. On the other hand, finding a way to efficiently communicate with each student’s parents can be difficult, especially when class sizes seem to be climbing higher and higher.
Paper calendars and emailed newsletters are tried and true ways for keeping in touch with parents. But, have you ever considered using an app? Today’s parents likely have devices at their fingertips all day long; why not utilize that connectivity?
Two of the most popular parent/teacher apps include Class Dojo and Remind. These free apps have slightly different features but can be used to provide an open channel of communication. Of course, the great thing about using an app is that the messages can be sent at whatever times are most convenient for everyone. Neither teachers nor parents have to wait for an appropriate time to call or arrange a one-on-one visit.
Not sure which app is the best choice for your classroom? Check out this breakdown of how ClassDojo and Remind can be used:
- ClassDojo. The increasing popularity of this app is likely due to the fact that teachers can use it for two purposes—a communication tool for parents and a behavior incentive plan for students. Parents receive a free code to access ClassDojo that enables them to view their own student’s behavior “points” that are awarded by the teacher. (It’s up to you how the students will “cash in” their points for prizes, privileges, etc.). Parents and teachers can privately message each other plus parents can catch a glimpse of how their student’s day is going. If you decide to use ClassDojo, it’s helpful to explain to parents that they only have access to their own child’s points.
- Remind. This is a great, no-frills tool. Remind works like texting, except teachers don’t have to collect and organize phone numbers. Teachers can create a “class” on the Remind app and parents can join the class using a code. Teachers can then use the app to write messages (maybe a reminder that permission slips are due) that will be sent to all who have joined that class. Remind may not be the best choice for back-and-forth discussions about behavior or academic progress, but it can be an efficient way to communicate basic info.
Probably the best advice in regard to communicating with your students’ parents is to just make sure you do it. Whether you use an app, email or hard copy options, it’s important to help parents stay informed.