Goal #12 for Teacher Reboot Camp’s #30Goals challenge is to engage parents. One of the definitions on dictionary.com is “to attract or please.” I really like this definition because I always try to please parents. Since I no longer work in the classroom, I’ll give you a few tips for things that I used to do in order to please parents and involve them in the classroom.
- I created my weekly newsletter in Publisher. I would scan it each week (I didn’t have a pdf converter back then) and then place that image on the website. I would also email the newsletter to the parents who had email addresses and sent home paper copies for those who didn’t.
- I kept my classroom website up to date (I still do this with our campus website). I made sure that I posted spelling lists, newsletters, awards, student work, upcoming events, and other items as appropriate. As a parent, I also appreciate this. It’s very frustrating to have a child who loses his spelling list each week, but less so when I can print one out from the classroom website.
- Letters, letters, letters, notes, notes, notes! If it was happening, I wrote about it.
- Pictures – I often took pictures in the classroom. If I had an email address for a parent, I would send the pictures of their child to them that day. It made for a nice surprise.
So what are some things that I would do now with all of the improved technology and social networks?
- Twitter – I would most definitely create a classroom Twitter account.
- Facebook – I think I would have to discuss this one and think about it carefully since our district has a policy about “friending” students online. I think it would be very cool to create a classroom Facebook page though.
- Podcasts – Each week, I would have a team of students create a podcast reflecting their week of learning.
- Contact forms – Our web authoring program allows for custom contact forms to be created. Rather than having parents exit your classroom website, they could just click the contact form link and submit the form. This saves the parent valuable time since they don’t have to pull up their own email and search for your email adress.
- Parentella – I would also definitely check out Parentella. I have not previously used this site, but it looks like a beneficial one for parents and teachers to connect. This might also be a good substitute for a Facebook page.
I definitely think that the use of web 2.0 tools is extremely beneficial for classroom teachers today. There are so many different ways to connect with parents. So go ahead, put yourself out there…pick just one…and start connecting!