As a school leader, you know the drill. One of your teachers only uses Remind, and her grade-level team does too. Another says Class Dojo is the only app that works for him, so he’s using that to communicate with parents. Some of your teachers use SignUpGenius for scheduling and volunteering, while others are devoted Google Calendar and Office 365 fans. You’ve got communication apps, behavior apps, and portfolio apps. At this point you can’t even remember your logins to them all—and your students’ families probably can’t either.
There’s no doubt about it: We’ve got a bit of a wild west situation when it comes to parent apps. And the proverbial struggle is real. Here’s how you can streamline the teacher-parent, back-and-forth dance with achievable goals to make your school community happier, less cluttered, and more connected.
Goal 1: Getting Everyone on the Same Page for Smarter Communications
Teachers need to get a ton of information out accurately and efficiently to parents. Where’s the path for fewer headaches?
What you can do: Most teachers are exhausted, if not burned out. Poll your faculty and staff to find out what’s working and what’s a bust with their app situation. Busy teachers want an efficient calendar and reminder system, top-notch security, and an overall ease of use. Find the common must-haves they’d want in their parent-communication bag of tricks. Survey parents, too. All stakeholders will appreciate you pooling their input for a smarter app solution.
Goal 2: Consistent Parent Involvement
Multiple communication apps and platforms are hard for parents to juggle. Engagement is dead (and volunteers have checked out) by October.
What you can do: Much gets lost in translation for parents between homework assignments, conference sign-ups, and opportunities to volunteer. You want them to lean in and not be pushed out. You’ll see a big jump in participation if you can manage communications for specific tasks and volunteering in one place.
Goal 3: Respect for Teachers’ Time and Energy
Teachers often mention parental respect (or lack thereof) for their office hours as an issue.
We found this familiar sentiment from an educator in our WeAreTeachers community: “It’s 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I’m being questioned about a lost binder, and she wants to know how her kid is doing. I don’t want to seem uncaring [by not] respond[ing]. I also don’t want to encourage them to message [me] about things that aren’t urgent (outside of office hours) either.” Now, imagine this from multiple parents, through multiple apps and platforms. You get the idea. Way. Too. Much.
What you can do: If you limit options, you get rid of distractions, so parents may think twice about bugging a teacher during Sunday brunch. Support teachers in their effort to manage their self-care and create boundaries. Encourage healthy habits, like weekday-only communication for nonemergencies, and have teachers set their office hours in your designated communication app.
Goal 4: A Budget-Friendly and Mindful Solution
There are many free parent-communication apps that are attractive to teachers, but free doesn’t always come without cost.
What you can do: Students with more than one teacher and larger families with multiple teachers may suffer from severe information overload. The result? They disengage, and everyone pays the price. Letting teachers pick and choose free apps without restrictions lengthens the communication divide. We’re fans of Bloomz to help bridge the gap. Bloomz provides an all-in-one, user-friendly solution for parent, student, and staff communication. It’s free for teachers, with options for school-wide upgrades if you choose.
Goal 5: A Unified, Connected Community
Teachers aren’t just competing for attentive eyes between classrooms. Apps are used throughout school and the community, and that shrinks the window for attention.
What you can do: The PTA, after-school clubs, sports teams, and your general district are all staples that help your school community thrive. They are all sending communications and using additional apps, too! Simply put: Make streamlining your teachers’ parent-communication efforts the number-one priority to ensure your school’s success.