By Katie Mitchell
Elementary backpacks are a mysterious place. Craft sticks, coloring pages, bits of crayons, leftover lunch bits and sometimes toys leave little room for notes, homework, or newsletters for parents, yet both teachers and parents or guardians need to make sure that important information is being shared. Newsletters that come home in crinkled elementary bags are helpful, when they make it home! Parents desire to be involved in what is going on in the classroom. What parent wouldn’t love a random note or picture of what their student did that day? With a teacher’s schedule as full as it is already, with teaching, planning, and every meeting in between, the days of handwritten notes are behind us. This is why an online app is not only easy, but fast for teachers to make those personal connections with parents to cultivate relationships for the year, as well as keep everyone informed with what is going on in the classroom, school building and district.
Each fall as summer comes to a close and the school year is in view, teachers begin to evaluate the potential changes they can make from previous years. In the age of technology and the popularity of the “paperless” trend, teachers find themselves looking for ways to connect with parents online.
When looking for an online way to connect with parents and guardians, there are some factors that teachers are desiring, including, free, easy to use, and private. The list below are apps and sites that fit the criteria.
ClassDojo is designed for the elementary level and is used for more than just notifications for parents, it is also a behavioral plan. Each student is given a ClassDojo monster they can customize. Teachers can give badges to let parents know how class is going, or they can give parents an update in regards to what their student needs to work on in the classroom. Teachers can upload documents, pictures, newsletters and post on the class story. This app is easy to install and use, but teachers and parents have a little set up work before getting started. Teachers must print off individual codes for each student that parents use to sign up, but overall, this app and site have great reviews from all users.
Classroom is free to use and simple for both parents and teachers. The communication can go both ways as teachers can send private messages, post homework, pictures, updates and newsletters for parents. Parents can send a private message or post a question for others to use. This could be used for all grade levels.
Class Messenger is an app that is free for all users. This app allows teachers to send messages privately to individual parents or post to multiple people at one time. One of the best options this app offers is for parents to decide if they would like push notifications on their phones or if they would rather have an email of whatever the teacher posted.
Join our Class is set up as a portal. It is known for having a simple dashboard where you can post announcements, news, blog posts and birthdays. The ease for teachers and parents is that this is an app that you can have with you and set your phone to allow the notifications at any time!
Katie Mitchell uses ClassDojo for her kindergarten students at East Buchanan Elementary. She has been teaching for 10 years in Missouri.