Working in a school, we often keep our focus on the students and their academic, social, and emotional needs in the building. While this is a primary goal of the school day, more are needed. In order to do the best for the kids in our classrooms, therapy groups, and beyond, we must work as a team. This means being having open communication with families. Everyone at home and school must be on the same page to ensure that kids have the most success.
Contact Beyond Open House and Meetings
When the school year begins, it’s easy to meet and chat with families. They often come to Open House and schedule team meetings about 504 Plan and IEP accommodations for the new year. Interest is high at this time when everyone is getting to know one another for the start of a fresh academic year. When things go smoothly, there are rarely emails sent or calls made by either school or those at home. If there is a problem, you know someone will be contacting the other.
We need to work on breaking away from this approach. Teachers, counselors, therapists, and others who work with kids in one way or another need to keep in touch with families. It is nice for them to hear progress, success stories, and ways which they can extended activities performed at school with their children to help them. Come up with a schedule where you reach out to certain families during a certain part of the month. Consistency is key and you can schedule reminders to make sure follow through happens.
Ways to Reach Out and Connect
We have become a society that likes instant communication. Texting with families is not always practical. Monthly emails are a possibility, but new technology options may make it easier to do. Check with your school and district to see if they allow the use of the Remind app. Remind is a free texting app that can be used for teachers and others in the school community.
Remind allows you to set up a class to join. Within this mini community, you may message the entire school, a group, a few people, or an individual. Reminders may be set ahead of time and texts may be sent to families via their phone. This is an easy way to connect with many families at once and be able to respond to them in a less formal way than email. According to their website, three out of four school districts in the United States use Remind. Remind also allows families to be able to let people know quickly if there is an emergency which may be relevant. Often, emails and voicemails may not be read, but Remind is quick and easy to check during the day.
What ways do individuals in your school keep open communication with families throughout the school year? Please share what has worked for different classes, groups, and age levels in the comment section, so others may benefit from your successes.