11 Tips for Engaging Parents

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“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.” – Jane D. Hull
One of the best survival lessons I learned as a teacher was to engage parents. This past week at the ISTE conference, I shared my tips and resources for engaging parents. Take this summer to create a plan for communicating with parents better. Trust me, if a parent is talking negatively about you at home, then you will have a difficult time getting the child to listen or behave properly in your class. However, if the parent likes you then you have an ally on your side! Engaging parents is a challenge. I write about Parent Engagement in Chapter 4 of The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers. Below are a few tips and resources from my presentation, Engaging Parents with Technology and Social Media. Feel free to download the slides.
Get your copy of The 30 Goals for Teachers and Learning to Go.

Tips
Every school needs a social media plan and guidelines. Check out how other schools use social media to inform parents. Here are two examples:

Have a VLE or LMS where students and parents can check grades, homework, see student work, be notified of important notices, and find important information. Discover more about virtual learning environments and learning management systems here.
Your virtual learning environment (VLE) should be easy to navigate, user-friendly, able to be translated, make good use of visuals and multimedia, mobile-friendly, protect the information and privacy of users, and provide necessary support and materials (possibly tutorials). Check out my young learner wiki, English Storytime, for ideas.
Engage parents by posting polls, recognizing various student news and achievements, posting announcements, sharing a calendar of events, sharing ways parents can contribute or volunteer, and having a way for parents to submit ideas, concerns and suggestions.
Parents can contribute to your podcasts, newsletters, blog, or vodcasts.
Recommended parent communication tools and apps- Remind, GAFE, Cel.ly, Class Dojo, and Smore. There are other platforms, but these have stood the test of time and are recommended by various teachers worldwide.
Google Apps for Education (GAFE) have incredible features for communicating with all parents. Create a form to gain parent information. You can copy and edit a template I started here.
Create emails or letters with Google Docs and translate with Google Translate.
One Google Doc add-on I use frequently is FormMule. This allows teachers to take the emails from a Google Form or Spreadsheet and send up to 100 emails a day quickly. You create a template and FormMule individualizes each email for each parent. This saves me hours. Find out more here.
Host parent workshops. Some suggestions for your workshop. Host with a group of teachers. Have a welcome bag with goodies. Many of the tech tools you use will provide you with bags, stickers, pens, and more. Start off with icebreakers. Let parents play with the tools and apps you will use. Be considerate of the parents’ time by feeding them and providing daycare (like watching a movie in another room with a fellow teacher or playing in a makerspace). Record the event for parents who could not make it. Follow up with parents about any questions or concerns.
Get parents to sign your Acceptable Use/ Responsible Use Policy (AUP/RUP). Find examples here.
Bookmarks
 Getting Parents on Board with Technology, by shellyterrell
If you enjoyed these ideas, you may want to get your copy of The 30 Goals for Teachers or my $5.99 ebook, Learning to Go, which has digital/mobile activities for any device and editable/printable handouts and rubrics.
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