Have you ever read an email from a parent and your heart sunk to the pit of your stomach?
It feels like the countless hours you spent over the weekend prepping, grading, and planning was for nothing in an instant. And for good measure, the principal is copied on the email. Now the hallway is scattered with eggshells as you tread carefully and get that inevitable question: “What is happening with ‘so and so’s” parent? I just read the email.”
Proactive Communication Before Parent-Teacher Conferences
As parent-teacher conference are around the corner, many educators may be anxious about the these types of interactions surfacing IRL. I believe the best way to avoid these uncomfortable exchanges is to proactively and consistently give your students the tools to be the spokesperson for his/her classroom experience. This can be scary to think that the same student that can’t manage to show up to class with a pencil should be trusted as the ambassador of your classroom. However, setting this high standard for communication is important to ensuring students take ownership of their learning inside and outside of the classroom.
Set your students up for success:
- Beginning of the Year: Have students email home your digital newsletter which introduces yourself. In addition, have students write one thing they learned about you from the newsletter that they connect to. It’s important to start building that trust and rapport right away.
- FriYay Email: Students email home every Friday and CC you on the email. Give students a template either on the board, via email, or Google Classroom. Parents will appreciate the organization of each Friday knowing what information is coming and in what order on the email. (This can also be done on notebook paper and brought back with parent signature for some kind of classroom job, homework pass, or lunch with you.)
- Student Website: Students create a GoogleSites or Weebly and constantly add their work or updates to the website. Basically, you create a digital portfolio to constantly keep parents in the loop. If students are missing work or discipline has come up. Have an icon established that will be a placeholder for such and parents will know to ask their child or that you will be contacting soon.
- Cartoon News: Have students create a Powtoon that presents what work they have complete, what homework they have, and what activities are coming up in your class or at school.
Supplement your Student Advocates
Now that you have your students taking accountability for sharing the classroom narrative, that gives you a chance to merely supplement what they are doing. You can do this by using various applications. Below are a couple of apps that help ensure everything is making it to the kitchen table at night.
- Remind: If you have a busy lifestyle, this is perfect! From your cell phone you can send mass messages, announcements, and even pictures. Share those classroom project quick and easily! Also, if behavior arises you can send a private message to a parent scheduling a conference call or meeting.
- Classtag: This brand-new app is changing the way teachers connect with parents. Currently, all of their services are free.