Viewpoint

Parent Communications: How Cloud Apps Can Boost Engagement

A teacher calls cloud-based apps and websites "game changers" for parent communications.

It’s time for educators to stop and think: What is the primary purpose of parent-teacher communications? To simply report negative behavior? Or is it to build a relationship with parents that allows them to play an active role in educating our learners?

In any case, parental involvement is critical to student success. “Ongoing research shows that family engagement in schools improves student achievement, reduces absenteeism and restores parents’ confidence in their children’s education,” according to NEA Today.  

But it isn’t always easy. Parent communication has been a constant struggle since I began my teaching career 11 years ago in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was using paper newsletters as my main source of communication up until this year. The problem with sending papers home, especially important ones with parent-teacher conference times or field trip paperwork, is how often they would get lost in the endless pit of the backpack 'black hole'.

We live in an ever-changing world and in the last 11 years technology has advanced at a rapid pace. Yet, schools are sometimes reluctant to adapt and tend to cling to archaic methods of communication. While I’m still required to send home a paper newsletter, I find using parent communication apps to be a more effective way of reaching parents. I can easily keep track of all of my class communications to see if parents and guardians are receiving important messages. On the flip side, apps make organizing volunteers, helping with classroom activities, setting up conferences, sending reminders and other critical educational events easy tasks for parents.

I believe cloud-based apps and websites like Remind, Bloomz, and ClassTag have been real game changers for parent-teacher communications. No longer do newsletters and important papers get lost in the shuffle. Most parents have a mobile device or laptop, and these direct channels of communication present new opportunities to receive class information. In some cases, apps give parents a “hyper boost,” as they start to take more initiative in their student’s learning.

In my classroom and other ones at my school, we use ClassTag to streamline parent-teacher communication. It’s user-friendly and parents find it to be helpful. One parent conveyed to me that, prior to using the app, they felt “left out of the “loop” and not an integral part of their daughter's academic success. Now, they enjoy communicating with me in real time and feel like they can a glimpse inside their child’s classroom.   

At my school, we are on a mission to build a community of learners and educators and recognize that fostering a culture of open parent-teacher communication is essential to this vision. Apps have allowed us to increase communication and break down the barriers we’ve been struggling with for years. Educators and parents have enough to worry about — they don’t need to be chained to a printer or fax machine to respond to newsletters and other paperwork. (Or worse: left wondering how they can help their child succeed.) Cloud-based apps are an easy answer to these issues and more. They can take the guesswork out of parent communication and have created a rich and dynamic community where learners can feel empowered and successful.

About the Author

Casey Korder has been a educator for the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada for 11 years. He has taught second, third and fifth grade and he currently teaches fifth grade at Claude and Stella Parson Elementary School. He encourages his students to be empowered learners and to become lifelong learners. His current motto is "You Have to Believe to Achieve!”

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