Any teacher who has dealt with difficult parents knows the stress it can cause. Whether parents demand excessive communication or won't even return your phone calls, there's no denying that an unhealthy parent-teacher relationship can make your job a whole lot more difficult.
Luckily, building a positive parent-teacher relationship through proactive communication has never been easier. Here are four free tools to help build connections, reach more parents, and save you time.
Remind is a teacher favorite for parent-teacher communication. It allows teachers to communicate by text message without having to give out their personal cell phone numbers.
Further reading: Tips for Teachers on Dealing with Difficult Parents
According to its website, Remind is currently used by 2.5 million teachers in more than 70 percent of U.S. public schools. It is preferred by many secondary teachers who may communicate via text with both parents and students.
Remind messages can be simple text reminders, file attachments, or photos, and can be sent to an individual parent, a specific group, or the entire class. As a parent who had to leave her crying child at school on the first day of kindergarten, I am forever grateful to my son's teacher who eased my mind by sending a picture through Remind of him happily playing with classmates later that day.
ClassDojo is a more comprehensive tool that includes the ability to send text messages, utilize a classroom management system, and create a class story—similar to a Facebook page. Unlike Remind, ClassDojo's behavior management system allows teachers to award or deduct points for positive or negative behaviors.
Many teachers keep ClassDojo visible on their interactive smartboards during class so students can monitor their points and behavior. Behavior reports are instantly available and can be downloaded and shared with parents. This report data can be helpful when you need to contact a parent with concerns, as it documents the child's behavior in a clear and objective manner. Before contacting parents with concerns, it is always better to initiate positive contact first, and thankfully, ClassDojo offers plenty of opportunities to reach out.
Particularly popular with elementary teachers, Bloomz is a tool similar to ClassDojo. Bloomz also has a behavior tracking feature and allows teachers to easily and quickly communicate both positive and negative reports home.
Bloomz has a design similar to Facebook and offers the ability for parents to comment or like posts and images. Elementary parents appreciate that Bloomz offers the ability to communicate with both the teacher and other parents in the class. Some popular Bloomz features are the classroom calendar and volunteer sign-up tools, which allow parents to create and manage sign-up sheets and volunteer for holiday parties or classroom celebrations through the app.
ClassTag has many features similar to Bloomz and is also typically preferred by elementary teachers. Like Bloomz, ClassTag enables parents to sign up via the app to volunteer or help with classroom activities. ClassTag also allows teachers to create newsletters and schedule parent-teacher conferences.
While many teachers struggle to build relationships with parents for whom English is not the primary language, ClassTag offers the ability to send messages to parents in their preferred language and have their responses translated back into English. ClassTag boasts that its most engaged teachers connect with 96 percent of their students' parents—and these teachers typically post at least one classroom announcement and 10 photos per week.
Further reading: Positive Parent-Teacher Communication
Frequent, positive communication is the key to building a thriving parent-teacher relationship. This school year, find the communication tool that works for you and energize your parent engagement.