Teachers and administrators at K–12 schools recognize the positive impact of parent engagement on student achievement, so many schools and districts now leverage technology to power better and more meaningful relationships with parents and families.
Educational research group Pearson reports that there’s increasing awareness and recognition among teachers and administrators that traditional parent-teacher conferences yield limited results, particularly for traditionally marginalized student populations. Pearson offers eight points that specify how digital tools can improve parent engagement:
1. Expand Your Classroom Communications Toolbox
Websites, emails, e-newsletters, specialized apps and other digital media let parents see the work their students do in class. These tools help extend learning beyond the classroom and give parents enrichment tips and ideas for learning activities they can do at home.
2. Take Care of the Routine Matters
Technology lets schools and teachers more easily communicate about day-to-day school events, such as back-to-school nights, fundraisers and science fairs. Apps such as Remind are great for this and parents will appreciate being more connected.
3. Bring Parents In Through Video Conferencing
Google Hangout, Skype and FaceTime let parents participate in class activities while being in a remote location. With many parents working, on travel away from the office or with other children at home it’s often hard to come to the school, so videoconference tools come in handy.
4. Take Advantage of Social Media
Working parents can sometimes feel left out if they’re not able to volunteer regularly. With Facebook groups, email chains and digital newsletters, they can stay more informed and offer more help and expertise during a time that’s more convenient for them.
5. Use Text Messages to Build Communication
Technology can also eliminate common barriers between schools and families. A lot of young parents become intimidated by formal conferences or can’t get time off work to attend. Many teachers have found that the ability to text parents has made communicating with them much easier. Simple and frequent texts to parents to explain students’ progress can be far more powerful than a traditional progress report.
6. Let Parents Help Design Your Communication Tactics
In the first weeks of school, some teachers engage with parents via email and online surveys to figure out the best way to communicate and give parents advice on how they can be involved with their students’ learning.
7. Use Data to Show Student Progress
Parents like to know what’s going on in the classroom. Teachers can now use data tools to show parents where their students excel and where they need improvement. Using modern data tools, teachers can get this information to parents much faster, as opposed to waiting until the end of the quarter when it’s often too late.
8. Make Information Easy to Access With the Cloud
Digital portfolios create a place for teachers and students to store work in the cloud. For example, students can develop digital portfolios to access all of their college readiness work, resumes, informational interviews, essays for college and scholarship applications. And because the information resides on the cloud students can access it any place, any time. As more millennials become parents they will expect school districts to use technology to communicate with them and their students. While districts need to adjust, it’s not an insurmountable challenge because many of these technologies are in use already. Think of this list as a great way to get organized.
As more millennials become parents they will expect school districts to use technology to communicate with them and their students. While districts need to adjust, it’s not an insurmountable challenge because many of these technologies are in use already. Think of this list as a great way to get organized.
This article is part of the "Connect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology" series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #ConnectIT hashtag.