Thursday, June 18, 2015

Facebook for Parents - 5 Ways to Improve Parent Communication

I tested this idea all year and am SO excited to finally blog about it!  I always ask myself how I can use tech to make my life as a teacher easier.  It is my goal and my passion.  This year, I decided to create a Facebook group for my parents.  I announced it at my open house at the beginning of the year.  Parents seemed excited and willing to give it a try.  I made a sign up sheet to get email addresses for everyone interested in joining.  I created a group and made sure it was a closed group.  This keeps it private.  We are just posting info for our class.  We used this group all year and I was amazed how much it helped parent communication.  Here are five ways I used our Facebook group this year.
1) Homework -
Each week, I took pictures of my class newsletter and posted them.  This had all the info about current events and the spelling words for the week.  Parents were able to message me if they did not understand something on the homework.  If they lost their homework packet, they could easily go to our group page to find it.  This made my life easier because normally I have several requests for extra copies of homework that has been misplaced.
2)  Student Recognition -
Parents love to see their kids getting kudos and praise.  Every mama and daddy know that!  It was so easy for me to take pictures of kids with creative art projects or great writing and post them to our group.  I have a star student each week and was able to post their picture with a little blurb about how awesome they are.  Each week, I also have the King or Queen of Handwriting.  I give them a crown to wear for the week and let them start on light blue every day on our behavior chart.  It was so easy to take pictures of these kids and give them a little extra recognition.  My class is subscribed to Raz-Kids.  Each week, I would announce the Raz-Reader of the week.  Once I started announcing this on the group, I noticed a drastic increase in time spent on the site.  I kept a little checklist to make sure all kids were recognized and that I was spreading the love evenly.
3) Coordinating Parties and Donations -
Have you ever had three sets of cupcakes show up for a party?  By posting on our group, parents were able to let each other know what they were bringing to our party.  It really helped prevent the surplus cupcake problem and parents were way more involved.  When I was not getting donations, I just posted a picture of what I had bought and parents quickly chimed in to help out too.
4)  Pictures and Videos -
Parents love, love, love to see pictures of their kids, but some are not comfortable with their child's pictures being posted online.  This is a CLOSED group.  The only ones who can see our posts are other parents.  I posted pictures like CRAZY!  Parents loved being at work and seeing a picture of what was happening in the classroom at that very moment.  In the beginning of the year, we had a really bad storm that caused the power to go out.  Parents were worried and I immediately started getting messages.  I broke out some fun finger flashlights and we were reading with them.  Parents were so relieved to see that their kids were fine and having fun.  That was probably the day that we all loved our little Facebook group the most.  Parents also share videos with me and other parents.  I always send home a stuffed animal with the kids.  I used to send home a disposable camera.  THe problems with this are, they are becoming hard to find these days and often when I got the pictures developed there were like 12 pictures of the ceiling.  (First graders are not the best photographers.)  Now, parents post pictures of the stuffed animal visiting their home.  We get to see them right away - no more waiting for the camera to get full.  I had a parent help at field day, take videos, and post them for all the parents who could not make it.  We hatched butterflies this spring.  Of course they emerged over the weekend.  Don't they always?  I stopped by school to check on them and actually caught one on video.  I posted to our group and the kids saw it on Saturday.  They were so excited and I was happy they didn't miss it.
5)  Keeping Families Informed -
You know when kids go home and parents ask "what did you learn today?" and kids say "nuthin'"?  I would write things like "Today we learned about spiders.  Ask your child about it!" or "Tonight, ask your student to tell you how the water cycle works."  I had a couple grandmas who live out of town in my group.  This was fun because they were able to see pictures of their grandkids' classroom, know what they were learning, and feel more connected to their lives.

I took some screenshots from my group to give you ideas and let you see how I used this with my parents.

I have NEVER had better parent communication than I had this year.  It was AWESOME!!!  I will never teach without a class Facebook group again.   As you plan your new school year, I really encourage you to make a class FB group.  If you have any other ideas or suggestion for using Facebook in the classroom, please share them in the comments.
Until next time,


Anonymous said...

I've done this a few years in a row and loved it. I get my parent's to sign a form saying they give me permission to post their child's picture on the page.This year I had one parent that wouldn't sign it so I didn't do the page at all because I was afraid that child might be in the background of a picture. I also had a parent that didn't want me to post his child's name under the pics because of his job. I think it's the easiest way to communicate and share with parents but be very careful. Because it's a private page I also do not tag or allow parents to tag any photos. If they do, the photos can be seen by other people that are not members of the page. I have parents that do not want any info shared because of their jobs so I had to be very careful what I posted.

Heidi Samuelson said...

What a great way to communicate with parents! Our school has FaceBook blocked and discourages having class pages at this time. So I do similar things using the Remind App. Thanks for sharing!
Mrs. Samuelson's Swamp Frogs

Felicia Woodall said...

This is a great idea. I have been thinking about doing this. In today's lives Facebook is a great way to communicate. I am going to create my group today!

Diane Strickland said...

Hi! I saw you on Greg's (Kindergarten Smorgasboard) Periscope video, so I looked for you. I love your blog and your TPT products. I just put several on my wish list for the BTS sale. I see I missed your July 4th sale. Grrrrr...

Have a great summer. I am looking forward to reading your blog!

Laura Scheunemann said...

Autumn, Could you tell me more about the Worm Buddies that were show on the Facebook slides. I know it's off topic, but I'm very curious. :)

kidssongsnurseryrhymes said...

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best regards

Anonymous said...

is there a letter that you sent to parents? Do you have an example of this letter?

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