How many hours a week do you spend writing, typing, printing, passing out your newsletter only to get questions from parents later? Questions that could have been answered by the newsletter.
Do you have a class website? Do your parents check your class website weekly? Is the amount of time you devote to your website the best use of your time?
This communication breakdown is not always from lack of parental interest. Unfortunately, newsletters do not always make it home. Students look at the newsletter in after-school care and forget to put it back in their backpack. The newsletter gets shoved in the back of a messy desk instead of put in the take-home folder. The list of reasons goes on and on.
Class websites are a wonderful way to showcase what is going on in your classroom. But, parents do not always remember to check websites on a regular basis.
What is the best way to communicate class-wide information?
Today’s parents are busier than ever. It doesn’t matter if the mother is a work-at-home mom or a work-away-from-home mom, mothers are on the go. What do busy moms have? Smartphones! A busy mom may not always have the extra time to go through a backpack daily. However, a busy mom does look at her smartphone several times a day. Look at any dentist’s waiting room or kid’s soccer practice and you will see moms and dads on their smartphones.
Communicate with busy parents using Facebook. You can organize it with a class Facebook page or a private Facebook group. The benefit of Facebook is parents can set your page to show up first in their newsfeed or set the group as a favorite so they won’t miss your posts.
Be sure to discuss this with your administrator BEFORE you set up a class Facebook page or group. It is important to follow your district’s technology policy.
Do you follow my Facebook page? Through the years, I have found a few things that made having an active Facebook page less time consuming.
Scheduling posts – There is some information that you can schedule in advance. Example:
Library Day – reminder to bring book(s)
Curriculum – units of study in math, science, etc.
It saves time if you have a graphic template for the posts that you will use regularly. Plus, it is easier for parents to find posts about spelling words if you use the same template each time.
Sharing children’s pictures on social media can be a safety concern for some parents. A class Facebook group is an option to offer when you have parents with concerns. The only people who can see the posts – and pictures of their child – is members of the private group. The private group would consist of parents of the class, teacher, and administrator.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I had fewer parent complaints when I began taking pictures of my students on a regular basis and sharing them. I wasn’t quite sure why the pictures had such a positive impact until I had a conference with one of my parents.
This mom explained that her child initially did not like school. He complained that no one wanted to play with him, no one liked him, and school was not fun. When I began sharing pictures each week, she saw pictures of her son playing, interacting with other students at centers, and smiling at school. She showed the pictures to her son and asked him to tell her what was happening in the pictures. She said the pictures helped “remind” her son of the positive things that had happened at school. The pictures also gave her a starting point for discussing his week. Even if he wasn’t in the pictures, he could tell her what was happening. She felt like she had a better idea about her son’s day at school.
It is helpful to share how you will communicate with parents at Back to School night. This is a good time to share your vision for how you will implement a class Facebook page or group. Ask parents to sign a social media permission slip. The sooner you get the slips, the sooner you can begin sharing pictures of your students.