As a school leader, you know the drill. One of your teachers only uses Remind, and her grade-level team does too. Another says Class Dojo is the only app that works for him, so he’s using that to communicate with parents. Some of your teachers use SignUpGenius for scheduling and volunteering, while others are devoted Google Calendar and Office 365 fans. At this point, you can’t even remember all of your logins—and your students’ families probably can’t either. Now that online schooling is a reality for many of us, the stakes are even higher.
There’s no doubt about it: We’ve got a bit of a mess when it comes to parent apps. Here’s how you can streamline the teacher-parent, back-and-forth dance with achievable goals. You’ll make your school community happier, less cluttered, and more connected.
Goal 1: Get everyone on the same page for smarter communications
Teachers need to get a ton of information out accurately and efficiently to parents. What’s the path with the fewest headaches?
What you can do: Most teachers are exhausted, if not burned out. Poll your faculty and staff to find out what apps are working and which ones are a bust. Busy teachers want an efficient calendar and reminder system, top-notch security, and overall ease of use. Find the common must-haves they’d want in their parent-communication app. Survey parents, too. All stakeholders will appreciate you pooling their input for a smarter app solution.
Goal 2: Consistent parent involvement
Multiple communication apps and platforms are hard for parents to juggle. Engagement is dead (and volunteers have checked out) by October.
What you can do: Much gets lost in translation for parents between homework assignments, conference sign-ups, and opportunities to volunteer. You want them to lean in and not be pushed out. You’ll see a big jump in participation if you can manage communications for specific tasks and volunteering in one place.
Goal 3: Respect for teachers’ time and energy
Teachers often mention parental respect (or lack thereof) for their office hours as an issue.
We found this familiar sentiment from an educator in our WeAreTeachers community: “It’s 9 AM on a Saturday morning. A parent is asking about a lost binder and wonders how her kid is doing. I don’t want to seem uncaring [by not] respond[ing]. I also don’t want to encourage them to message [me] about things that aren’t urgent (outside of office hours) either.” Now, imagine this from multiple parents, through multiple apps and platforms. You get the idea. Way. Too. Much.
What you can do: Limiting options allows you to get rid of distractions. As a result, parents may think twice about bugging a teacher during Sunday brunch. Support teachers in their effort to manage their self-care and create boundaries. Encourage healthy habits, like weekday-only communication for non-emergencies, and have teachers set their office hours in your designated communication app.
Goal 4: A budget-friendly and mindful solution
There are many free parent communication apps that are attractive to teachers, but free doesn’t always come without cost.
What you can do: Students with more than one teacher, and larger families with multiple teachers, may suffer from severe information overload. The result? They disengage, and everyone pays the price. Letting teachers pick and choose free apps increases the communication divide. We’re fans of Bloomz to help bridge the gap. Bloomz provides an all-in-one, user-friendly solution for communication. It’s free for teachers, with options for school-wide upgrades if you choose. They also added a robocalling feature which is not only convenient but can save you money if you’re paying for a different platform.
Goal 5: A unified, connected community
Teachers aren’t just competing for attentive eyes between classrooms. Apps are used throughout the school and the community, and that shrinks the window for attention.
What you can do: The PTA, after-school clubs, sports teams, and your general district are staples that help your school community thrive. They all send communications and use apps, too! Simply put: Make streamlining your teachers’ parent-communication efforts the number-one priority to ensure your school’s success. Choose an app that can handle the needs of individual teachers and the larger school community.