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Teacher Wisdom for October: Communicating with Parents

Parent Communication

Welcome to the October edition of Teacher Wisdom.  This month we focus on communicating with parents whether it be an informal conference, a formal parent teacher conference or just keeping the parents informed.  I will share something old, something borrowed, something new and something true about communicating with parents.

Something Old

I ditched my handwritten grade book many years ago when this app first came out.  It is an amazing app that now keeps all my grades.

It has so many features such as, categorizing assignments, recording notes about assignments, overall percentages and averages and weighted and standard point-based scales.

Communicating with Parents
Keep your grades on this handy app!

But the best feature of all is that it can generate reports that can be emailed directly to parents or printed out for parents.  So any time a parent wants an update on assignments and overall grades, just generate a report and email it!  It’s also great to have these reports at Parent Teacher Conferences and explain how scores are calculated and how they will affect the report card.  I also generate the report to send along with the report card at the end of each trimester.  You can search for the app on your iPad at the App Store or you can visit the developer’s website HERE.  By the way, the developer is very responsive to requests and emails. This app gets better with every update!

Communicating with Parents
You can generate reports to share with parents via email or hard copy!

Something Borrowed

I recently had a Parent Teacher Conference for my own child.  My child’s teacher shared with me a sheet that she had each student fill out before the conferences.  Each child had to rate their performance in a curricular area as well as, study skills and behavior.  Then each child had to set learning goals for the year to improve in those areas.  As a parent of a 6th grader, it was great to see what goals my child has chosen and how he hopes to improve his grades this year.  It helps me as a parent to know what those goals are so I can support him in meeting them.

So guess what! I am borrowing this idea from my child’s teacher and doing the same with my third graders.  I made a quick Learning Goals template which you can download HERE to use with your students as well.  Both the PowerPoint template and PDF file are included.  The PowerPoint is editable so you can change the form if you need to.  I think it’s a great way to start off a parent conference!

Communicating with Parents
Downloadable Learning Goals Template

Something New

I recently blogged HERE about how I started a Parent Communication/Behavior Log Book.  There are times when as teachers we really need to document all communication with certain parents.  So any time I communicate with a parent through ClassDojo, on the phone, in person I note it in the log book.  That way it’s easy to spot patterns and have proof of communication and giving notifications.  Also, any notes the parents send I also keep stapled to the log book as well.  It recently came in handy when a parent told me that I never informed her about a situation.  But when I looked in my log book, it shows that I informed an aunt who had picked up the student after school AND who was supposed to relay the information, which she never did.  But when I looked in my Log Book, there was the date and note indicating that I had informed a relative.  Needless to say, I was relieved that I had not dropped the ball.

Communicating with Parents
Parent Communication/Behavior Log

Something True

Sometimes you have to do as the Romans do.  Does anyone really read those notices we send home in backpacks every week?  Imagine all the trees we could save by just texting or emailing all those notices and flyers!  So, how do I keep the parents informed on a daily basis? With ClassDojo and Remind.  Almost everyone now has a cell phone and can receive texts and messages. Parents are more likely to read a text message than a flyer stuffed in a backpack!

ClassDojo I use mostly for classroom behavior while Remind I use for announcements and reminders.  I sign up as many parents as I can for ClassDojo and Remind at Back to School Night.  The ones who haven’t signed up, I have them sign up at their Parent Teacher Conference.

Communicating with Parents
ClassDojo and Remind helps keep parents informed on a daily basis.

ClassDojo is wonderful because I can send a message to all the parents or to just one parent about student behavior.  Just the other day, I had substitute for the afternoon.  The sub reported that several students were very disruptive.  I quickly notified the parents through ClassDojo about it and parents messaged me right back that they would talk about it with their child.  I’m also going to use ClassDojo to message parents every time a student passes a particular multiplication table and I will included a picture as an attachment!  That way parents can be involved in encouraging and motivating their child to learn the multiplication facts.

Remind is an amazing app!  I schedule messages and announcements to parents on Sunday.  Then during the week parents receive my messages on their phones.  During the week of our Jog-a-Thon I sent messages almost every day reminding the parents that we were trying to raise money for our field trip and to please start collecting the donations to bring in.  All those text reminders generated so much enthusiasm that my class raised over $1000 for our field trip!  I also use Remind during the year to also remind parents of Picture Day, Open House and any other school activities or celebrations.  It’s also good for letting parents know when the next test is so that students will study.

Don’t forget to click below to visit other bloggers and learn their Teacher Wisdom for communicating with parents.

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