Add a newsletter to the weekly routine. If only one parent or guardian responds, it’s worth it.
Addressing the Concerns of Parents Using Online Tools
After a disastrous school year (20–21), many families are concerned about their student’s progress. Some feel lost. They aren’t sure how to get information about what their student is doing in school. They ask the child, but kids are notorious for shrugging their shoulders, or saying, “Oh, just a bunch of assignments.”
Many schools have an app that displays a student’s assignments in any given class, as well as grades. However, as a parent, I often did not fully appreciate how my son would complete that assignment. The descriptions were cryptic or missing. That was pre-pandemic.
Improved Communication through the LMS
Now, teachers have come to rely on learning management systems (LMS) to manage assignments. If anything good can come of this pandemic, it could be that we have become accustomed to transferring what used to be on paper to the LMS. Barring any Internet issues that could inhibit access, we now have a repository of material online that will not get lost in the chaos that it is a student’s locker or a teacher’s desk, for example.
By the way, I brought home several handwritten papers this week. It is the first time in over 18 months that I will score on actual paper. Please, say a prayer that I don’t lose any of them. 😃
Families have more access to the daily work of the classroom due to this transfer of paper to the LMS. Our LMS allows for “parent accounts” that are view-only, so families can review each class and see all the assignments their student has. In other words, a “bunch of assignments” now has meaning.
Opening Avenues to Communication
Real conversations about a student’s workload can now take place. These conversations can be helpful to the student. Families can help students become organized, more capable of addressing all their priorities.
Something I have noticed is that if students become overwhelmed with the number of assignments they have, they start to shut down. They tend to forget what they have to do. They procrastinate. In the past, families were alerted to the problem when zeroes started showing up in the grade book. By opening avenues to communication, we can avoid that. Families can take a proactive approach, not a reactive one.
One More Avenue to Communication
In addition to encouraging families to gain access to the LMS, I have added family emails to regular communications for each class. I used to only email students; this year I am expanding my reach.
I also added a “Weekly Update” newsletter to my approach. Each course has a section that explains what we will work on the following week, as well as important reminders about project due dates. I encourage other teachers to do the same. If only one parent responds to the newsletter, it’s worth the time it takes to write it.
This week, I received a nice email from a parent in response to my newsletter.
I appreciate the email. I hope this continues for the entire year. I can keep track of what assignments my daughter has in your class and what you will be working on with the students.
I responded that I intend to continue the weekly updates throughout the school year, and thanked him for the encouragement and feedback. Now, I am motivated to not disappoint him.
The Newsletter Does Not Have to Be Fancy
In fact, the newsletter could simply be an email you send with a heading for each class and a blurb about what is happening along with important due dates.
There are resources you can use if you want to send a fancy newsletter. Here are some to consider.
- Adobe Spark
- Search Google for “Newsletter Templates” you can edit in Word, Google Docs, etc.
- Word and Google Docs offer templates, I believe.
- If you are a Mac user, I believe Pages offers templates too.
What are your thoughts about communication with families and students? Perhaps you have other ideas. I would love to read them. Thank you for reading this post.