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How To Use A School App To Open A Window To The Classroom (And Not A Floodgate)

01 May, 2019
Kathleen Morris Avatar
Kathleen Morris
Primary School Teacher
How To Use A School App To Open A Window To The Classroom (And Not A Floodgate)

Strong teacher parent communication is critical to ensure every student thrives at school.

The research on the benefits of teacher parent communication is clear. Recent findings from the Global Family Research Project Report show that:

“when families and teachers join together to support children’s learning and development, children are more likely to succeed in school, graduate and stay on their path to college or a career”

As an educator, this would not be news to you!

You might be wondering what’s the best way to communicate with parents in our rapidly changing world. Perhaps the communication channels you’ve relied on in the past are not as well received as they used to be.

The nature of home school communication has evolved over recent years. Paper notes, outdated information and time-consuming meetings are being replaced with instant, digital, and focussed communication.

One of the most exciting and effective ways to drive teacher parent communication is with a school app like SkoolBag.

In this post, I go through the benefits of using an app for teachers and other school community members.

I also zoom in on how SkoolBag can be used to not just streamline administrative tasks, but fuel student learning with classroom insights.

Why use a school app?

Why use a school app-e603b6.jpg A high quality app is a breath of fresh air for busy schools. There are benefits to be enjoyed by teachers, parents, students and school leaders. Let’s take a look at what apps can offer all members of the school community.

Benefits for teachers

No doubt you’re juggling more responsibilities than ever before as a teacher. All educators value the importance of strong home-school communication but you need an approach that’s streamlined, effective and easy to manage. Apps for teachers can be used to send out information on the go without taking time away from your core business of teaching and learning.

Benefits for parents and families

Parents are operating in an information-rich world and want to be kept up to date with all that’s happening with their child at school.

Today’s parents want information sent directly to them in a timely manner. They don’t have time to dig around in their child’s school bag to look for a crumpled outdated note. With a single app on their phone, parents can obtain the information they need without time consuming phone calls or face-to-face meetings. An organised household is a happy household!

Benefits for students

Students are happiest and most productive when they have the backing of both their teachers and parents.

Academically, students need support from all of their caregivers to meet their full potential as a learner.

As Heather Weiss from the Harvard Graduate School of Education says,

“family engagement is not a single event, it is a shared responsibility in which regular two-way communication ensures that the student is on track to meet grade-level requirements”.

Beyond academics, teacher parent communication is essential to ensure students are happy, healthy and engaging positively with their schooling and with others.

As students progress through their education, they develop many social and emotional needs that have to be met. The key to supporting students to navigate these needs is strong ongoing teacher parent communication.

An app can streamline all areas of communication.

Benefits for school leaders

School leaders shoulder a great deal of responsibility and play a key role in supporting teachers, students and families. Principals, assistant principals and other school leaders need to ensure all members of the school community are well informed and on the same page.

A school app can streamline communication for leaders and administrators. Using an app for communication is not only more effective, but it can save the school money as well. Printing endless notes and permission forms is costly (not to mention bad for the environment!). Paying staff to field repetitive phone calls is also not the best use of resources when these can be handled digitally.

Beyond School Communication: Sharing What’s Happening in the Classroom

SkoolBag Abacus

SkoolBag is the app of choice for thousands of schools around Australia and New Zealand. It allows for ongoing channels of communication to be established that support strong home school relationships.

The SkoolBag app is evolving. Originally, the app was primarily used for schools to relay administrative information to parents. Parents could keep up to date with events, reminders and schedules as well as organise their payments and student absences.

SkoolBag does more than just help families stay organised: it can be used by teachers to communicate directly to parents. By sharing classroom insights with parents, teachers can help foster an environment where students achieve and succeed.

Do I need a separate app for teachers to offer classroom insights?

No. SkoolBag is evolving into an all-in-one app. Who has time to learn, use and promote more than one platform? If your school uses SkoolBag, you don’t need to pay for another app.

Teacher parent communication is most effective when it’s clear and consistent. If you set up too many channels for communication, things can become confusing for everyone.

Use one app, use it well and enjoy the maximum benefits for all members of your school community.

Why would I want to use an app to communicate directly with parents rather than email?

In most schools, handwritten notes and unnecessary meetings are being phased out in favour of digital communication. A lot of the time this involves email, however, it’s important for teachers to think carefully before relying on email to communicate with parents.

Some schools are reluctant for teachers to give out their email addresses to parents and open themselves up for “anywhere anytime” communication.

While the majority of the time, email is used for respectful communication between teachers and parents, there are some downsides:

The climate of parent teacher communication in schools is changing. A major report for the Sydney Morning Herald recently highlighted the devastating consequences of communication gone wrong.

While it’s essential to build positive and respectful relationships, schools need to be cautious about limiting and monitoring their communication channels. In an age of social media and “always on” communication, it can be beneficial to use one digital channel and use it well. Coupled with face to face meetings or phone calls when needed, a school app can protect teachers while empowering parents.

Let’s take a look at exactly how you can make the most of SkoolBag to share what’s happening in your classroom.

Getting Started With Sharing Classroom Insights On SkoolBag

SkoolBag Classroom Parents might not realise how many exciting things are happening in your classroom. The old “chalk and talk” method parents are familiar with has been replaced with purposeful projects, dynamic activities and personalised learning.

You’ve probably heard many parents say they get little information out of their child at the end of the school day! An app like SkoolBag can solve this problem.

Parents love being able to take a virtual peek into their child’s classroom and students benefit when their family is involved in their learning journey. Teachers can enjoy working with well-informed and supportive parents without opening the floodgates to unlimited communication.

How To Communicate Directly With Parents Using Class Groups

SkoolBag Pencils When teachers want to communicate directly with parents using SkoolBag, they need to write a post and share it with a Class Group. The Class Group can be set up with just one or two parents for private matters, or it can include all of the parents in your class or interest group.

As a teacher, you can create quick posts with photos on the SkoolBag app and send them out to their Class Groups. Check out these simple instructions to find out how to post an entry on the SkoolBag app.

If you’d like to use the web-based SkoolBag admin console, you can also attach PDFs, videos or other types of files to your posts.

Example Uses Of SkoolBag In The Classroom

There are a number of ways you can use SkoolBag as a teacher to share classroom insights.

Let’s take a look at three classroom scenarios. SkoolBag Class Examples Graphic.png

Sharing classroom insights can involve a one off post, or an ongoing series of posts. Insights can be directed to the parent(s) of an individual student, or to a wider group. The information can be a crucial part of supporting a student’s learning or just “nice to know”.

Summary

Over to you

As our world becomes increasingly digital, new opportunities are available to power teacher parent communication. Relationships are built on positive communication and can make a big difference in the outcomes for our students.

When teachers and parents work together, students can thrive academically, socially and emotionally.

Consider how you can embrace the power of a school app like SkoolBag to foster your teacher parent communications. Perhaps there is more to explore with the app than you first thought!

Kathleen Morris Avatar
Kathleen Morris
Primary School Teacher

Kathleen is a Victorian primary school teacher. She’s been blogging about educational technology since 2008 and has a particular interest in digital citizenship, global collaboration, information literacy, parent communication, and educational blogging. Follow Kathleen’s blog at www.kathleenamorris.com and connect with her on Twitter @kathleen_morris

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