By Teachers, For Teachers
These days, parent-teacher communication is key to a successful academic trajectory -- it’s essential that teachers keep mom and dad in the loop, almost at all times. Here is TeachHUB.com’s list of the four best ones.
Remind – previously called “Remind 101” – does exactly what its title claims, but in a unique way compared to most educational apps. You know those smartphones that seem to be within arm’s reach 24/7? Well, Remind allows you to send a text message directly to students’ or parents’ phones.
While you can definitely text any parent directly from your own phone, Remind provides an important buffer between yourself and school families. Parents can submit their contact information onto Remind’s app or website. Then, when you want to text them, you can keep your smartphone and personal number away and simply utilize the app.
Remind keeps subscribers’ private information private, but still allows you to send short messages in a very personal and immediate way. When communicating with parents, other methods can be slow: It might be hours before they view their e-mail or check their voicemail. They may rarely view your class website. But a text message means that parents can learn about their child’s class during a meeting at work, while brushing their teeth, or between favorite TV shows. Many teachers use this platform as a chance to provide updates to parents on homework, materials needed, test dates, or other opportunities or resources for the students. Parents who elect to participate will be constantly kept abreast of up-to-the-minute details in your classroom.
Facebook and Twitter – two of the largest social media platforms – have a problem. Whenever you share something, every single one of your friends and followers will see it. While this is great in some cases, most times you really only need specific portions of your network to view certain posts. Bonfyre is one of several educational apps designed to cure this problem. Instead of asking you to create an ever-growing list of irrelevant post viewers, Bonfyre allows users to create customized lists of individuals for specific events. This makes Bonfyre one of the ideal tools for teachers who want to use social media to share details of their classroom with the people who care most about students: Their parents.
In many cases, it’s actually illegal for teachers to post pictures or specific information about their students on social media platforms. But when teachers use Bonfyre to share about their class, they are simply sharing with a targeted, approved list of parent viewers. Bonfyre allows teachers to create “events” that individuals can “attend” by responding to an email invite or scanning a barcode. Events can be single occurrences or ongoing correspondences. Bonfyre provides what app co-founder Raymond Gobberg calls an “Intimate, private level of connection between a student’s daily classroom activity and their parents that cannot be achieved through other social networks or content platforms.” It brings all the benefits of social media to the safe, secure channel of a digital teacher-to-parent meeting.
This free app excels at opening up the channels of communication between teachers, students, and parents. Class Messenger is one of the newer educational apps that allows for the sending of private, fast text messages. Often, trying to keep parents informed involves time consuming phone calls, website updates, or impersonal mass emails – for which most teachers hardly have time. Class Messenger helps teachers keep parents in the loop with its easy-to-use, customizable communication format. Now, teachers can take mere seconds to update parents about the latest events or reminders related to their children’s classroom.
Class Messenger helps organize communication around categories like General, Volunteer, Homework, Reminders, Survey, or Meet With Me and streamlines the flow of communication. Parents can elect to receive these messages via text, on the website, or through email. Parents can just as quickly respond back to teachers; and what’s best is teachers can even receive data on which parents have opened the messages they were sent. So if teachers are looking for an easy and fast solution to keeping parents consistently in touch with what’s going on, Class Messenger may just be the answer.
Edublogs.com is the largest online community of education blogs, boasting over 2.5 million blogs over the last nine years. With this tool, any teacher can begin their own blog in minutes, for free. While teachers may utilize this free blogging platform for a diverse array of online sharing, Edublogs is also one of the easiest ways to share information with parents.
Edublogs shines as a communication tool because it offers all the perks of a basic website or blog. Teachers can set up a variety of static pages related to the class – like an About or Calendar page – for parents to view at any time. But they can also regularly update their site with posts, photos, and up-to-the-minute information that is relevant for students and parents.
Additionally, teachers can host student pages or just post student work to the site for parents to see what their child has been up to. And with a massive edublog community, no new teacher will ever be lacking the support or assistance they need to maximize their blog. Plus, for a range of price packages, Edublogs provides teachers with a long list of products and services that allows them to explore how expansively they’d like to customize their site.
Jordan Catapano is a high school English teacher in a Chicago suburb. In addition to being National Board Certificated, he also has worked with the Illinois Association of Teachers of English and currently serves as a school board member for a private school. You can follow him on Twitter at @BuffEnglish, or visit his website ACTWritingTips.com.