Every good teacher knows that clear communication is vital to success in the classroom. But may teachers focus so much on communicating to students that they forget another important party: parents. Modern technology such as student notification systems and text communication make communication between parents and teachers easy. If you’re a teacher, it’s important to know how.
Below, we’ll discuss why parent-teacher communication is both harder and more important than ever before. Then, we’ll outline some of the easiest ways to stay in contact with parents, even if you’re dealing with a particularly large class size.
What Has Changed with Parent-Teacher Communication?
Long ago, educated children received their lessons at home. As formal education became more commonplace, many children attended one-room schoolhouses. In smaller towns, the schoolteacher knew each parent personally.
In these times, communication was limited to handwritten notes and face-to-face conversations. When everyone shared the same social circles and lived close to each other, this was fine.
Now, though, most schools serve a much larger student body. Parents may come into direct contact with a student’s parent only once in the entire school year. Class sizes in public schools can average up to 35 students in some states. This leaves teachers with little time to talk to parents individually.
What’s more, parents are busy. Many students attend multiple extracurricular activities each week. Not all families eat dinner together every night. Teenagers are notorious for their lack of communication with their parents.
Larger class sizes, larger school districts, and busier family schedules make it harder for people to connect. But the connection itself hasn’t become any less important.
Traditional parent-teacher conferences can help. But the reality is that more often than not, you need to utilize other methods of communication to truly stay connected with your students’ parents.
What Can Be Done about It?
The good news is that the world hasn’t only changed in ways that make parent-teacher communication harder. Technology evolved to make communication easier than ever as long as you know the right tools.
Student notification systems are one of the more surprising ways to ease the stress of parent-teacher communication. Text communication via mass text messages, voice calls, and emails, also play important roles in the process.
Student Notification Systems
One of the best ways to communicate well with parents is to communicate well with their kids. Using a student notification system allows you to keep your students informed of class events and deadlines.
There are two main benefits of having informed students.
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The first is that they can tell their parents what they need to know. You won’t have to communicate with each parent directly, because they’ll hear much of the information from their children.
The second benefit is that kids who are reminded regularly of what’s going on often do better in school. If you remind kids of due dates, they may not wait until the day before a project is due to tell a parent they need poster board. If you notify kids in advance, they are more likely to dress appropriately for a class field trip.
When their kids are doing better, most parents feel more at ease. They have fewer complaints or negative feedback because their kids are learning and thriving when they’re at school.
Text Communication with Parents
Mass text messages can be another important part of keeping parents informed. Text communication is instant, visual, and two-way, making it ideal for consistent use with parents.
The vast majority of your students’ parents have cell phones. Text communication caters to this popularity. Text communication also allows you to send a message to all of the parents at once, allowing you to get last-minute news out faster.
Texts can be delivered to smart phones or less advanced cell phones. Additionally, text communication can be used to gather responses, including poll results or further questions.
You can also send pictures, videos, maps, or links in text messages, making them an easy way to share classwork examples or grading information.
As an added bonus, texts can be read to recipients as audio if they prefer that method. They can also be read or written regardless of noise level or voice quality, or saved for later if the recipient is busy. Unless the recipient deletes the message, the information is available at any time.
Voice Communication with Parents
Voice broadcasting is another way to communicate with all of your students’ parents at the same time. Unlike text communication, voice calls require a certain degree of availability — such as a quiet atmosphere — for both the teacher and the parent.
The most beneficial part of voice communication is that you know immediately if the recipient has answered your call. Other than that, many aspects are similar to those of text communication. Voice calls can be used to collect poll responses and send out last minute information.
What voice calls lack is the ability to provide information in multiple forms. A voice call can only provide audio information, and there’s little opportunity for recipients to find out more.
Email Communication with Parents
Email communication is similar to text communication in many ways. The biggest difference is that emails don’t carry the same sense of urgency. People tend to notice and respond to text messages faster.
Additionally, email is probably not ideal for a student notification system. Many kids think that email is outdated, and likely spend more time texting than emailing.
However, emails have the potential to be longer without being difficult to read. Information such as entire newsletters are much better suited to an email format than a text message or voice call.
What Can You Do?
The ideal method for communication between teachers and parents will change depending on class size and makeup, parent and teacher preferences, and even the information that needs to be conveyed. The options above can be a helpful place to start in determining what’s right for your classroom.
Student notification systems, alongside voice and text communication, can be important tools in your toolbox towards building a close knit relationship with your students’ parents.
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