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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Three Efficient Ways to Keep Parents Informed About Your Class and Their Children

 The first assistant principal that I worked for gave me a great piece of advice on my first day. He said, "communicate with parents often and they won't be surprised when you communicate with them." It was great advice and I put it into action by sending home a weekly newsletter. Today, there are more efficient ways to keep parents informed about what is happening in your classroom. Here are three good methods to keep parents informed about your classroom in general and their children in particular.

ClassDojo is a popular tool for creating records of students' behaviors like staying on task, being prepared for class, and general attendance in class. You can also add custom behavior categories to track in your ClassDojo account. ClassDojo also provides a free messenger service. ClassDojo Messenger can be used to send messages to parents on an individual basis and on a whole group basis. ClassDojo uses the term "Direct Messaging" to refer to sending messages to individuals and the term "Broadcast Messaging" to refer to sending messages to all parents in a group. ClassDojo Messenger hides the personal contact information of the teacher and the of the parents. Parents have to opt-in to receive messages from the teacher.

Remind (formerly known as Remind 101) is one of the original text messaging services for teachers. In your remind account you can create and manage multiple classes. Once you have created your Remind account you can send messages to parents and students (they have to opt-in to receive them on their cell phones) from your cell phone, from your laptop, or from your Chromebook. Messages can be sent to a whole group or sent to individuals. Messages can include attachments and short voice recordings. Remind offers a set of ten PDFs designed to help teachers start using the service and to introduce the service to parents.

Email is still a good way to communicate with parents. Creating a simple mailing list and BCC'ing parents is one way to send updates about your class in general. To send individualized emails you might consider using a Google Spreadsheet script. It might sound complicated, but it really isn't. Watch the short video below from the Google Developers team to learn the process.