There are a variety of ways that teachers and administrators can communicate with their class, staff, and parents. Effective communication is vital to a schools success. Not just the typical teacher to parents way, but also in the campus to the families way. Good communication can prevent misperceptions and mismatched expectations, encourage parent involvement and foster a team approach to caring for your students. Families should feel welcomed, informed and as involved as possible.
Classroom activities, fun projects, assemblies…there are visuals to accompany all of the good things going on at Lewis Elementary.
Melinda Miller creates videos that communicate important calendar events happening. Her campus still sends home a paper calendar but also provides this link to her staff/families. She uses an app called Touchcast, to make this happen. TouchCast creates an interactive presentation that mixes video with web content. The app lets you record a video and overlay elements such as web pages, maps, photos, Twitter streams, polls, quizzes and more. Users watching the video can click on these multimedia elements and interact with them while the video continues to play. You start by recording a video using your iPad’s camera. You can pick from several themes like newscast or review that’ll insert titles and other elements to get you started. TouchCast uses a timeline to lay out the elements of your video and allows you to drag& drop extra content.
Tony Sinanis, known for his Bammy award winning and New York Principal of the Year ways, creates amazing videos with his students each grading period. Want to know what Cantiague students are learning about? Let them tell you. I think my favorite part of this idea is the relationships that are so evident between Mr. Sinanis and his students. As an administraor, it is impressive, but as a parent? I’m all in.
We use Remind101 not just with our students in individual classrooms, but also with our staff. This has been a HUGE tool for me this year, as I don’t have the personal relationships with our staff that I am used to, just being a year in on this campus. It’s always awkward when you get to the phone number/texting/connections aspect of being the lead learner…but no fear! I still have the capabilities to connect with my staff through Remind 101. We created an account and then utilize it to announce a couple of jeans days (ensuring campus wide participation;)) and have taken advantage of its one way mode of getting info to our teachers. From uplifting texts to snow day announcements, this has become our go to way to getting a message out to teachers. I can even choose individual users as well for grade level specific messages, if necessary.
Jay Posick creates a weekly Smore that he shares with his Merton families. I love that I can back to week one of his school year and see what they doing then. He adds pictures and short blurbs to let everyone know where and what is going on. As a parent, I think this would be incredible way to have the “what did you do at school today” conversation. It is free and easy to use. Promote school events, let students design flyers for upcoming curriculum, and you can even monitor the number of views and web analytics. Smores can easily be linked and shared to classroom blogs, school websites, Twitter and Facebook. Plus? a 2014 bonus…Smore ‘pages’ work flawlessly on smartphones and tablets!
Establish THE hashtag, THE phrase, THE saying that defines your campus. From the AHMO of Wylie high school that made it to Letterman, to the #GOCRICKETS that Joe Sanfelippo has permeating all of Fall Creek, Wisconsin, to the biggest and student led hashtag of #leydenpride from Jason Markey’s unifying campus culture, this is an opportunity for you to create an environment that extends past your physical location. Brand your vision for your community. Everyone wants to be a part of a team…this is why the collegiate traditions of A&M and Texas Tech are so popular, people want to feel connected and a part of something bigger than they are. Why should your campus not take advantage of that?
Twitter and Facebook are two popular ways to share information but in this day and age there is no reason not to find a “high tech” way to match your “low tech” efforts and meet the needs of your families. Worried about them getting on board? Showcase your students! Spot light the great things happening on your campus every day. That’s what parents really want after all! Then? You just sneak in the extra that you want to know as well.
BE INTENTIONAL in your attempts to involve the “village” that we all know it takes to have a successful school/home partnership. It’ll be worth that extra step or two to use any of these methods. Need help? Email me and I would be more than happy to walk you through getting started. Or? I can connect you to any of the excellent folks I get to call friends listed above to help ya too!