I have been on a mission, this past year, to improve communication with our parent community. This mission arose from my own frustration with my children's school, where the communication about my kids is sparse at best. As a parent, I struggle because I don't really have any idea what my kids' day consists of, or what they are actually doing in school.
So, this year, I have been thinking about how to improve communication to our parents and to give them a glimpse into their own children's school life.
One of the tools that we use each week to share images is animoto.com. It is such a visually stunning tool that is so simple and quick to use. In fact, for the first two months that I was creating videos for the school, people thought I spent hours editing. There is also an app for Animoto, and it makes creating and sharing even easier!
I shared the tool with some of the multi-age special education teachers, so that they could create videos from their field trips, or special events. The parents of those children have been so thrilled that they can see their students doing things at school that they have never seen them do at home...imagine the power in that! Amazing!
The other tool I use is kid power! I have a club afterschool where the students go out and interview teachers or students, and take pictures of the events going on at school. Then, the students meet with me and we develop a YouTube video to share with the community on our own SMSNews25 Channel.
The videos are shared on our school website and through a listserv that the parents sign up to receive.
In the coming months, I plan to get a Twitter account for our school and share and tweet some of the school projects we are doing and invite the world to comment and collaborate with our students. Our teachers are just now getting ready to have a two way conversation with the world...baby steps!
I believe that improving communication with the community can only help teachers and schools. Parents want to know what their students' days look like, to participate in their learning, and lots of packets of papers coming home misses the mark! As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Other tools to explore:
1. ThreeRing.com an online portfolio spot
2. Classroom blogs like Kidblog, Blogger, etc
3. Smore.com to create beautiful newsletters so easily
4. Inviting parents into your Edmodo groups.
Communication from your classroom or school should be more like PR. Market yourself and the great things you are doing with your students...I know I would be so happy if my kids' school did it for us!