Keep your students from falling behind in distance learning. Communicate with parents daily using apps like Remind and Class Dojo.
As the 2020/2021 school year approaches, teachers have a lot of questions about what it will look like. When we ask this question, it seems like all we hear is “We don’t know yet.” Since governors, district leaders and administrators don’t know what schools will look like next year, teachers are struggling to figure out how to prepare. In this blog series, we are looking at 10 ways that we can prepare this summer without wasting our time. Each way will prove beneficial to you, whether your district ends up using distance learning, traditional classrooms, or a hybrid education approach. Included in each blog post in this series will be tech tool suggestions, free resources, and a giveaway entry form.
We have already talked about setting up your digital classroom, exploring technology tools and exploring both digital and paper formats for teaching resources. Today we will discuss something else all teachers should do to prepare for next school year:
Make a plan for improving parent communication.
If I learned one thing from teaching distance learning to a bunch of elementary students, It's how important communicating regularly with my parents is. Let's be honest, this was ALWAYS an important thing to do, but we weren't all doing it. Instead, we were depending on the kids to tell their parents things and calling it "teaching responsibility". Or we were assuming that the one paper or one random email that we sent was sufficient.
Communicating with parents should happen on a regular basis, in a regular format, so that they know what to expect and when to expect it. In my regular bricks and mortar classroom, I update my website every Monday morning. Then I send a message to the parents using the Remind app to remind them to check the website. I include the link to the website each and every week. Additionally, if there's something super important on the website, I copy and paste those words into a separate message so that students who don't take the time to go to the website will still see it. And yes, parents still ask questions that I have answered already, but the questions are less and the understanding is more.
If you think that amount of communication was overkill, I amped it up even more during distance learning. Because I wasn't face to face with kiddos, I felt it was more important to let parents know daily about my expectations. So EVERY morning by 8:30 a.m., I sent a Remind message that relayed the code for Google Meet (even though it was the same every day), and the expectations for class assignments (even though they were the same each week). It didn't take me that long since I copied and pasted the message from the day before and just tweaked it. I got worried after awhile that the parents would get sick of seeing the exact same message. But I never had anyone, in 6 weeks, complain. I did, however, have multiple parents reach out to me and thank me for keeping them and their kids on track.
My method of overkill communication may not be for everyone. However, as a parent I will tell you that my middle schooler paid way more attention to the classes that I got daily or biweekly messages from than from the teachers who never communicated once in 6 weeks. We are all busy and it seems much safer to me as a teacher to assume that my parents don't know what's going on than to assume they do.
So this summer, take some time to plan out how you are going to improve your parent communication. Will you build a class website or have a class blog? Will you use email, Class Dojo, Remind, Bloomz, Class Tag or other apps? (Personally, I prefer these as a parent because the messages go directly to my phone and I ALWAYS have my phone on me.) What can you do to create a digital communication piece? Just like exploring tech tools, now is a great time to play around with these tools and build a plan for using them. No matter what system is in place for next year, increased communication can only help you reach more parents and build their support for what you're doing with their children.
FREE Resources for Your Classroom
As you take some time to explore parent communication options this summer, here are some free resources which may help you out:
Important Student Information Sheet - Make sure that you have those phone numbers and email addresses that allow you to stay in constant contact with your parents next year. This information sheet also has a place to enter sibling and transportation information.
Stuff I Know About Graphic Organizer - This four part graphic organizer allows students to reflect on their learning from any book, any video, any website or any topic. In addition to a printable paper version, there is a Google Slide distance learning version that students can type on.
June Digital Learning Resource Bundle Giveaway
Now time for our giveaway!!! With today's giveaway entry form, you will be entering to win my my 4th Grade Internet Scavenger Hunt Bundle. This bundle includes: 8 different internet scavenger hunts. Each scavenger hunt comes with 4 different formats: .doc format that allows students to type on them, a .pdf that allows students to click the links, a QR code version that allows students to scan QR codes and a Google Classroom version that includes a Google Doc and a Google Form. Enter to win this Internet Scavenger Hunt Bundle, by completing the the June Giveaway Entry Form #4.
All winners will be chosen on July 1st. Winners will receive the bundle directly to the provided email. All those who enter will also receive my monthly Raki's Rad Resources News Releases.
Interested in more tips on how to prepare for the unpreparable 2020/2021 school year? Come back tomorrow for tip #5!
Missed a day? This blog post contains the entire list of 10 Things You Can Do to Prepare for Next School Year.
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