5 Tips to Save Time and Stay Connected
Fact:Students perform better when parents communicate often with teachers and become involved in school.
Alsoa Fact:More than 50% of American internet users are spending time on sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
There’s no denying it. Social media is now a necessary tool for staying connected to the world around us, so many teachers are going where the parents are. It’s much more likely that a parent visits Facebook or Instagram daily, whereas a visit to your class website may only happen once inawhile. Teachers are increasingly turning to social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share class news, special events and photographs of classroom life.Parents are immediately notified about new posts on their mobile devices, increasing the chances that information is viewed and parents become engaged.
But as teachers with many demands from administrators, students and parents, not to mention our own families, we can find these important methods for communication to be overwhelming and time consuming. That Facebook post feels like just one more EXTRA thing to do! So how can teachers minimize the work involved, yet maximize the potential benefits of social media tools? Keep reading for5 simple tips for using social media tools in parent-teacher communication. Don’t forget to download our free cheat sheet with 25 easy ideas to get you started.
1. Determine your purpose–Justas our personal philosophy on education lays the foundation for our daily work in the classroom, so can a statement or vision on parent engagement. What are your thoughts and feelings about communication with parents? Taking a minute to reflect on your purpose and goals, will help keep you focused on what’sreally important.
For example: I believe that… parent communication is an important part of the home-school connection. Communication should be a two-way street, and be accessible to all parents. It is crucial that messages and responses are sent in a timely manner.
2. Plan ahead— Nowthat you know where your priorities lie, consider what preparations you can do to become more efficient with your time.
- Put it in your plans: As you are creating weekly lesson plans, include ways that you’ll communicate what’s happening in the classroom with parents. Which lessons will produce great photo ops for your next post? What questions can you pose to extend learning at home?
- Set-up routines: Motivation Monday (Words of inspiration for the coming week), Thumbs Up Thursday (Celebrate student successes, highlight exemplary work), TheFriday Recap (Overview of the weeks’ events, peek at next week’s events)
3. Put your students in charge– You’vegot aclassroom full of digital natives so use them. Designate a student or team of students to capture photos and video, then write about the learning taking place. Make it a classroom job or part of an assignment for all.
- Teach students about the guidelines for appropriate use of your digital tool.
- Design a template or list of sentence starters to help them compose their post.
- Consider allowing students to use photo editing apps like Flipagram or Instacollage.
- Include teacher approval as a last step beforeposting.
4. Instead of declarations, use invitations— Ifparent communication is to be a two-way street, consider what opportunities are available to invite parent or even student participation in your postings. Include questions, polls and digital activities.
- Digital activities to try:Start a scavenger hunt in which students post pictures of items focused on a certain letter or theme. Have students post photos of items related to their favorite book or historical figure.
5. Keep it simple— Don’t reinvent your posts, borrow them! Have you read a really interesting post or tweet lately? There’s no shame in sharing. An easy way to save time and energy is to repost or share great content created by others. You can relate back to your classroom by adding your own comment about why you’re reposting.
Although we teachers know how important good parent communication is, it often falls by the wayside when things get busy. If you put in just a few minutes to devise a plan, you can minimize your workload and maximize the potential for parent involvement. Be proactive about your social media presence, share the load and reap the benefits of an informed and engaged parent group. Get started today, with our free printable list of 25 social media post ideas.