This is the third post in a series about how you can effectively communicate with home – which is so important at Back to School time, and all year long. The first and second posts are here if you missed them.
Communicate regularly (from the beginning)
After that ever important first phone call, and the homework and other info that you’re providing on your class blog, some of you may think you’re done. Others, know better of course! The really tough part is to keep it all together on a day-to-day basis. My tips for this, would be to make yourself reachable and have a system in place.
Making yourself reachable begins with a helpful tip that I stole from another blogger, Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6. She had said that she always starts the year by giving her parents a fridge magnet with her contact info on it. What a great idea! At my school, we all get little blue cards to send home with our students with our name and the school phone number – but a magnet is so much better.
I found Vista Print this summer and so I ordered custom magnets from them. What a deal! I had them within a week and I ended up ordering 50 (enough for two years) for $26 Canadian – and that included shipping! I plan to pass them out to the parents who come to Meet the Teacher and send one home to the parents who can’t make it that night. I included my name, blog url, school phone number and email on the magnet so that I’m as reachable as possible for parents.
Having a system in place could be anything – using student agendas, weekly class newsletters or monthly reports. The other grade 7 teacher and I use what we call “The Clipboard”. We track behaviors and send home a report at the end of the month. I’m thinking, maybe we’ll do it weekly this year - it may carry even more weight! We are also continuing to try to link consequences to these monthly reports, but we haven’t found a fool proof method yet – loss of privileges (attending school events for poor behavior) natural consequences (lower marks for no homework) and so on…We re-vamp it a bit each year.
We are going also going “live” this year with our mark system, meaning parents will have online access to their child’s attendance and marks, so that will be a help for sure, as far as keeping the doors of communication open. No surprises at report card time!
Finally, I’m thinking about really training my students to use their agendas more effectively this year. I find, some students buy them – but then never open them and perhaps they just were never shown how to actually utilize them as an organizational and time management tool. (Look for a future post on using student agendas more effectively.)
How do you maintain communication with home for the whole year?
Communication with home is essential, no matter what grade level you teach. With Back to School on the horizon, I’m sharing some simple ways you can connect with your students’ parents. Here’s the link to the first post if you missed it: Communicating with Parents.
Keep a class blog/website.
I just started my class blog last year, but I had numerous parents who checked it regularly and really depended on it to know what was going on at school. Mine is a WordPress blog. It’s free and it was simple to set up. Here’s what my class blog looks like:
I’m in the middle of cleaning it for the new year – but feel free to have a peek. It’s a work in progress at the moment, though.
For me, there are lots of benefits to keeping a class blog.
-I keep their homework posted, so when a student is absent, they know what they missed. Lots of other students (and parents) also depend on the homework feature to stay on top of things.
-Once the parents know about the blog, they can subscribe to follow it and will get email updates whenever I post something new.
-I can keep all fundraising and school event info on the site to inform parents.
-I can keep students informed of upcoming assignments, and parents informed of work that has gone home.
Some other sites to look into for setting up your own class blog/website that I have found:
You may want to double-check with your school tech person before you register a blog. Some districts block certain sites and you wouldn’t want to go through the work of setting up a website or blog for nothing!
All in all, once your site is up, even if you just use it for homework and important updates – I think it’s a great investment of your time because of the connection it creates between home and school.
Do you have a class website or blog? What site do you use?