Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Great Ways to Bridge the Home-School Connection

I thought I would share a few great websites that have been really making a difference with the way I communicate with parents this year.

Remind is a quick simple way to send messages to parents (and students).   It is free and so easy to use, all you have to do is set up your class profile and then follow the directions to invite parents to join your class.  You can send messages from the computer or right from your mobile phone and parents get the messages as texts or in their email.  You can attach documents and photos, which is great for permission slips or to send a pic of those cute classroom moments!

Remind only works one direction, so parents cannot respond and the messages don't come from my cell phone number they come from my Remind number so it respects my privacy.  I almost forgot to mention that you can schedule your messages ahead of time, which can be a real life saver for people like me who forget things easily!  As soon as I get the monthly newsletter, I schedule reminders for PTA meetings, events, town hall meetings and any other special happenings in my classroom.  

This is the 2nd year that I have used Remind and I can't imagine not using it now!  The parents in my class absolutely LOVE it!  

Sign Up Genius has been a long time favorite resource of mine.  I first found this website years ago when my hubby and I were swim team reps for our children's large swim team.  We needed a way to organize the countless parent volunteer jobs for each swim meet.  Sign Up Genius was the perfect solution!!  We have used it for other PTA volunteer functions over the years so I can't believe that it took me so long to use it as a teacher.  Last year I decided to use the website to coordinate parent teacher conferences.  It was great!!  

To get started, you have to create a free account and then simply follow the very user friendly steps to set up your event(s).  After you have all your days and times set up you can "publish" your sign up and it gives you a link to send out to parents.  You can also send parents emails directly from Sign Up Genius but I liked used the link because I simply cut and pasted the link into a Remind message and shot it out to parents in Remind!

Parents follow the link and pick their conference time!  One of the great things about Sign Up Genius is  the reminder feature; it will email parents before the event!  No more sending those endless flyers home trying to coordinate conference times!  I love it!  

Sign Up Genius is also great for setting up parent volunteers in your classroom!  Last year was the first time I used Sign Up Genius for my conferences and to help coordinate classroom volunteers!  

Volunteer Spot is another free website that is similar to Sign Up Genius (SUG) but is truly intended for coordinating volunteers.  I decided to give it a try this year to see how it was compared to my beloved SUG!  So far, I really like it!  I have all my conferences scheduled through SUG but my monthly volunteers are coordinated using Volunteer Spot.  

I know the internet is full of great resources for teachers and parents.  I hope you liked learning about my favorites!  What are some of your go to websites?

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