5 Tips For School Districts To Improve Parent Engagement
For as long as teachers have been educating young minds, they have seen the true and lasting value of engaging with the parents of their students — from the traditional phone call home, parent-teacher conference, and mailed paper report card to mobile apps, social media discourse, and text alerts of today. Methods may change over time, but the fact remains that the students of engaged parents are more academically successful and have better attendance, higher graduation rates, and lower behavioral problems.
The days of phone calls and in-person conferences are not entirely behind us, but more and more, parents crave immediate announcements, grade updates, district news, and emergency alerts in digital form.
Here are 5 tips for utilizing technology to partner and connect with parents:
- Offer a mobile app. Most parents are never far from their cell phone; offering an app that is compatible with any iOS or Android device will allow parents access to real-time information that is always on-hand. Mobile student information systems can be tailored to the individual parent’s needs with push notifications about grades or attendance and the ability to look at all of their children’s information in one central location.
- Update your status. Make social media a key part of your district’s engagement efforts. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are particularly popular among parents who not only appreciate seeing school closure and district news come across their feed, but are now even starting to expect it. Post regularly and be sure to respond to questions, comments, messages, and concerns that parents post to your district’s social media accounts.
- Send it in an e-mail. Email is still a convenient and timely way to contact parents with non-emergency announcements, such as school news, upcoming events, and classroom field trip and party communications. E-mail is useful for classroom planning purposes, as it gives parents an opportunity to respond not just to their child’s teacher, but also to other classroom parents.
- Blast it out. Not every parent will download an app, follow you on social media or regularly check their e-mail. That’s why it’s important to utilize text and voicemail broadcasts for the most immediate announcement needs, such as school closures and delays or emergency information. Voicemail and text alerts are the easiest and most effective way to reach the largest number of parents all at once.
- But wait! Don’t forget the tried and true. In our fast-paced, technology-saturated lives, the methods above can help communicate quickly and effectively with parents and keep them engaged on a day-to-day basis. However, there is still a time and place for the traditional and personal interactions, including the occasional phone call to discuss an issue that requires more attention than a quick text or email can provide. The parent-teacher conference still gives parents and teachers the opportunity to connect face-to-face and in a meaningful way. Even a quick word or two when possible at drop-off, pick-up, or special school events can deepen the bond between teacher and parent as partners in each student’s education.
When focusing your efforts on improving parental engagement, look not for one quick fix, but rather a combination of different tactics and methods that will enable you to reach every single parent, regardless of their personal situation or work schedule.