With technology, it has never been easier to forge successful parent relationships and partner with caregivers in supporting students in the classroom. Here are 10 ways to use ClassTag to connect with parents right out of the gate to set the stage to collaborate all year long.
1. Use ClassTag
First, let me disclose that ClassTag did sponsor this post, but all of the tips and opinions in it are my own. I’ve been recommending ClassTag to my followers for a while now because it makes it SO easy to manage parent communication, send newsletters, and schedule meetings & volunteers. You can also use a combination of other apps and services to achieve the same effect, but I like having one place to organize everything and one sign up process.
2. Share Photos and Videos
Very few students share detailed info about their day with parents without prompting. Make discussion easier and keep parents in the loop by taking photos and short videos throughout the day. In addition to taking my own pictures, I like to have a student photographer of the week who is in charge of snapping pictures when appropriate.
You can easily share photos right in ClassTag, and I find that parents are more likely to be engaged with ClassTag if you have cute pics of their kiddos to peak at in between reading announcements.
3. Allow Parents Access to Digital Student Portfolios
Use Seesaw or Google Classroom parent accounts to give parents access to student portfolios or digital work. Or have students upload work to KidBlog or a class website. All of these options allow the teacher to control what gets posted, but while it may be tempting to only showcase best work, don’t be afraid to let draft work get published either. It is helpful for parents to see the whole picture of their child’s abilities. Sending an Announcement in ClassTag to the class can remind parents to check in on any digital portfolio you are using.
4. Be consistent
Regardless of your preferred method of communication, be consistent. Parents appreciate knowing what to expect and when to expect it. Have a clear email policy and stick to it! Send out a newsletter on a consistent basis with info about class goings-on.
ClassTag has an auto-newsletter feature that makes this especially easy, especially for weeks that seem to fly by. Make sure to communicate your plans for communication to parents up front. After sending out your welcome emails with ClassTag, post an Announcement with class information.
5. Spread the Love
Make sure to communicate with parents equally. We all have those kiddos that require a bit of extra love and whose parents we will become fast friends with, but make sure to reach out to parents of all kids in the class equally.
One way to organize this is to split the class into 4 groups and assign each group of students a week. Then on that week make sure you reach out to parents either with an email, a phone call, a quick note or even by making sure that student has posted a photo or item to his/her digital portfolio.
I set this up in the beginning of the year in Google Calendar. I create an event for each group. In the event title, I write the student names, then I set it to repeat monthly until the end of school.
You can keep track digitally by using the inbox on ClassTag to send private messages to families quickly.
6. Organize Volunteers
Gone are the days of sign up lists, email chains, and disorganized volunteer schedules. I recommend ClassTag to organize parent volunteers for parties but also to set up volunteers to help with any classroom needs at the beginning of the year.
Since it is the 21st Century don’t forget to update your volunteer jobs too. Have parents volunteer to comment on student blogs, assist with Genius Hour projects, or facilitate PBL or STEM Challenges. I like a mix of jobs that can be done at home and in the school or classroom so that working parents can be involved too.
7. Reach Out
You might notice in your ClassTag stats that some parents are not as involved as others. This could be due to busy work schedules, other family obligations, or you are so awesome at communication they trust you completely (let’s hope!). But just in case, take action with a quick email or message to check in so you can rule out any other barrier.
Sometimes a simple “I just wanted to see how Ann is enjoying 2nd grade so far?” can help open the line of communication. Don’t wait until conferences to make contact!
8. Find your experts
Learn what your parents are experts at or interested in and consider how you can use this information to support your students. Encourage parents to share their interests or expertise in their ClassTag profile when they set it up. You might find a parent to assist with your coding club or an expert in video editing. Parents may also have connections with people to Skype with the class such as authors, scientists, and even relatives overseas.
9. Be culturally aware
Being culturally aware applies to parent relationships, too. Make sure to remove language barriers to accommodate non-native language speakers. ClassTag can support culturally responsive classrooms with the ability to translate communication into a caregiver’s primary language.
You can even translate the welcome email so they feel included right away.
10. Start right away
Set the stage for open and positive parent partnerships day 1 or prior if you are able. I suggest emailing parents ahead of the first day of school with the sign-up information for ClassTag so you already have your class set up. If your school has an open house or meet the teacher, set up a desk with sign up information for any parents who may not have responded.
You can even have students personalize the sign-up sheet so parents are sure to look at it. Keep these displayed on student desks with devices handy for parents to sign up before they leave the classroom.
A lot of parent-teacher woes start with miscommunication or lack thereof. If you get parents involved right away and show them your commitment to your students and to sharing that WITH them, you will assuage any anxieties that could develop had you not been proactive. Whether you work in a school with little parent involvement or a school of overly involved parents (and everywhere in between), using a consistent system to engage parents right away will make it easy for those that need it to be and set expectations and boundaries for those that need them.
How are you setting yourself up for successful parent relationships this year?
Erintegration is sometimes provided free services, goods, affiliate links and/or compensations in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and options are my own and are not influenced by the company or its affiliates.