Tools for Digital Communication with Students and Families

Meghan DeeganBlog, Connect Better, Tech Better

TL;DR:

  • Communicating with students and their families is necessary to fully support students.
  • Tools for digital communication include Remind, Google Classroom, emails, Seesaw, Flipgrid, Google Meet, ClassDojo, ClassTag, and more!

When we think about a normal school day, we as teachers spend hours each day with our students.  Then our students go home and spend hours with their families.  This changed drastically when COVID-19 hit.  We spent zero time in person with our students and they were spending all of their time at home with their families.  Parents needed to quickly figure out how to help their children with school work and teachers needed to quickly figure out how to teach from a distance. During this time, digital communication with students and their families became the foundation for everything else we would do. 

Using Technology for Digital Communication

Whether we are in the classroom or teaching remotely, communication is key.  The saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  The truth is, it also takes a village to educate a child.  If we aren’t communicating with families, then we’re working twice as hard to not only support our students and hold them accountable during school hours, but also after hours. 

We cannot expect families to read our minds and know exactly what they can do to support their child at home.  This is the same for students.  We cannot expect students to know and understand our expectations if we are not communicating effectively.  

If we aren’t communicating with families, then we’re working twice as hard to not only support our students and hold them accountable during school hours, but also after hours. Click To Tweet

I thrive on relationships; they are the foundation of my classroom.  The only way I can build positive, effective, long-lasting relationships is through communication.  Communication with families, with students, with all stakeholders.  Does this take time?  Of course.  Is it worth every ounce of that time?  Absolutely.

So how do we, in a time with so many unknowns, effectively communicate with both families and students?  There are so many digital tools for communication that work both for an in-person or remote setting.  Here are a few favorites:

Let’s dive into a few of these tools and figure out how we can use them!

Remind 101

Remind 101 is a great tool for communication!  You can easily set up an account and send messages to students and parents.  Remind is a free app that allows two-way communication.  With this app, you can schedule announcements to send out and set office hours so families and students know when you will be available for support.  It allows you to see how many parents or students have read each announcement.  It also has in-app translation which is great for families that speak different languages!

Flipgrid

Flipgrid is a free resource that allows you to communicate with videos!  This can be the perfect way to help your students interact with each other and build relationships.  You can also set it so that only you can see the videos your students post, and use this as a way for students to ask questions.  Flipgrid can also be used to send videos to your students’ parents!  There are so many options!

Google Classroom

If you are a Google district, then you probably use Google Classroom.  Not only can you add your students to your classroom, you can also invite their parents.  This can be a great way to post assignments and communicate with your students.  You can send emails quickly to the entire class, individually to students, or to a few students at the same time.  By adding parents, it allows them to see what their student’s assignments are and what they’re completing.  You could even create a Google Classroom just for parents!

Emails

How often do you send emails?  Creating weekly updates is an easy way to keep everyone up to date!  There are a few ways to make regular emails a bit more fun!  Create a newsletter and send that as an update.  Try recording a video update and sending it in an email.  Or create a newsletter that includes a video!  There are so many fun ways to spice it up!

Seesaw

Seesaw is another free resource that creates a student portfolio and allows for easy communication with families.  Whether you use Seesaw as a way for students to goal set, reflect, complete assignments, or upload notes and activities, this can all easily be shared with parents.  As students work and upload on Seesaw, it creates a digital portfolio of everything for them! 

As a teacher, this is an easy way to see everything a student is working on and provide feedback!  Seesaw also includes choice in how students work: drawing, recording, collages, videos, etc.  Families are able to use the Parent and Family app to stay connected with their child’s learning and progress!

[scroll down to keep reading]

There are so many digital tools for communication.  This doesn’t mean you have to try every tool I listed or every tool that you hear about.  Pick one.  Find a tool that works for you and use it!  The key is to communicate, however that may look for you!  If you can create a team—you, students, and their families—and have effective communication between all stakeholders, you’re setting yourself and your students up for success.  Isn’t that the goal? 


About Meghan Deegan

Meghan Deegan is a 7th grade math teacher in the Chicago suburbs and the Lead Ambassador for the Teach Better Team. She has a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction and is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher. She loves working with and connecting with fellow educators and is active on Twitter and Instagram.

Meghan loves spending time with her two dogs, boyfriend, family, and friends!