In our ever-changing fast paced world, adequate communication often finds itself lacking. Invariably when outcomes are diminished the reason can be traced back to a lack of communication at some level.
Communication, or the lack thereof, can be found within the educational community as well. Communication overload can also be the culprit in lesser than expected outcomes. It is imperative to communicate information that is needful, but it is also just as important to not over-communicate. Information overload leads to confusing the important, essential items with those that are just “FYI”. The same is true within the educational setting and how we communicate with our parents.
Why is Communication with Parents Important?
As stated previously, the fast-paced world we live in tends to stifle adequate communication. However, in the educational setting, parents must be aware of the progress or lack of progress on an ongoing basis. It is our responsibility to make sure our parents are informed of their student’s progress, and this should be done frequently.
Most of the time, timely communication can serve to ward off potential problems or deficiencies that affect student progress. However, a parent kept in the dark cannot help us in dealing with day-to-day issues pertaining to their children. Communication with parents proves to parents that we, as a school, care about their child and the progress they are making.
Communication with parents also stresses that we value them in the educational process. It is just as important that we not “overload” the parent with information that is not meaningful. If our parents receive “junk mail” from the school, they are apt to miss the important information that they and we need to ensure their child is progressing satisfactorily.
One note here that needs to be stated; communication to parents does not always have to be punitive. A positive communication to parents can be very rewarding to all stakeholders. A positive contact to a parent on a Friday afternoon can make for a very enjoyable weekend for the student and the parent contacted.
School-Wide Communication Strategies
There are many forms of communication available to us today to get the word out to parents and others. Here are a few ideas, most of which are tried and true.
By using this format, a teacher or administrator can call or text the parent directly through their computer. This is a fast way to contact a parent, and it allows one to contact the parents phone without using their own cell phone number. This form of communication usually records the call or text to be able to easily refer to in the future. The online text feature is invaluable to instant communication with parents most of the time. This format allows the educator and the parent to continue what they are doing while having the discussion about the situation at school. This form of parent communication can be a welcome tool for resolving minor issues before they become major.
School-Wide or District-Wide All Call Messaging
The school-wide or district-wide all call messaging system is a great tool for getting mass-messages out to all stakeholders. This mode of communication can be used for announcements such as school schedule alterations, emergency announcements such as inclement weather or school lockdowns. Additionally, this system allows for announcement reminders of holidays or special occasions like homecoming or ballgames. Basically, this is a way of getting out information to a large number of stakeholders in a short period of time.
School-wide newsletters are a valuable communication tool that allow parents to read at their leisure. This form of communication does not always have to illicit a response, as it can be mostly informational. The newsletter format allows for the spotlighting of people for accomplishments as well as informs parents of upcoming events including keeping a calendar, if included, that they can post for reference on the refrigerator. The newsletter can also help keep the ever-present state tests on the minds of the parents and students.
Social Media Sites
The ever-popular social media sites available offer a great way to showcase not only your school, but individual classes as well. Many schools are using sites such as Instagram to post pictures of activities going on in their individual classrooms. This is especially popular with the younger aged students, as parents can see what their child is doing in class that day—often minutes after an activity is concluded. With this type of communication medium, it is important to get permission before posting pictures of a student. It is also important to monitor activity and be very careful about what is posted in your pictures.
School or Class Website
The use of websites in schools and classrooms has been a popular means of communication for quite a while now. This mode of communication allows for up-to-the-minute posts of “happenings” at school or in the classroom. Parents can literally click the website to see what is happening now as well as what is coming up in the future.
However, one caution here, it is very important in the use of websites that they are kept up to date. One way to make sure nobody looks at your website is to let it become old, stale, and outdated. Websites can continue old material for reference, but they must also be kept fresh and always updated.
Communication with parents is key for our students’ success. We tell our parents that they are important to the educational process. Remember, keep them informed, not overwhelmed. In every communication, we must be positive and professional. If we win the parents, there is a great chance we are going to win the student as well. A successful student is the goal of all of us, including the parents. Let’s resolve to keep our parents “in the loop” every step of the way. Communication is key and one of the keys to student success.