When it comes to achieving classroom goals, good parent-teacher communication is vital. In the business world, for instance, effective communicators meet their original goals 80% of the time. So if teachers implement an effective method of communication with parents, it will make for a smoother, clearer, and more successful school year.
One way to communicate with parents easily is by sending out a weekly or monthly newsletter with updates and reminders. Newsletters can come in many different forms and include anything from pictures and videos to helpful study tips. Communication technology is advancing at an incredibly rapid rate, and it behooves teachers to take advantage of these new communication mediums. Here are some helpful tips for using these mediums to create a useful newsletter.
Choose the Right Tool
There are plenty of tools to choose from when making a weekly newsletter. Creating a document and printing out a paper copy may be your go-to option, but with today’s technology, it’s easy and even more efficient to keep it paperless — think about how easily a piece of paper gets lost or ruined, especially in the hands of a child. Sending newsletters through email is probably the easiest way to reach parents. But teachers can also do it with a website using tools such as Spark Page, an Adobe app that allows you to create a website straight from your tablet, or WordPress, a user-friendly blogging tool. Pictures, videos, and links can all be embedded into both platforms with ease. Once you develop a working format for your newsletter, you can just pop in new information and pictures every week.
Make it Eye-catching
The trick to a good newsletter, just like any form of media, is to make it eye-catching. Parents are constantly receiving information from all sorts of places, let alone their child’s school, so it’s important to grab their attention fast. Using graphics is a good place to start because parents love seeing visuals of what their kids are doing in school. Perhaps you could include a picture of the week or get the students involved by encouraging them to submit a photo, drawing, or short poem for the newsletter. And when it comes to text, keep it short and to the point. A list of bullet points works much better than a wordy paragraph. Also, leaving some white space makes it easier on the reader’s eyes.
Keep it current
Make sure your newsletter is actually sending out the news. The point is to keep the parent’s informed, but don’t send out a newsletter with old news. Parents don’t need to know the class mission statement every week; they need to know this week’s spelling word list, what projects are coming up, and what color shirt their child needs to wear for field day. And always make sure to have the most important information at the top. It’s also a good idea to tell parents what to do next, i.e. don’t just tell them the field trip is next week; explain that the permission slip needs to be signed by Friday and to send their child with a packed lunch. You can even include tips for parents to help their children practice the week’s subject matter out of the classroom. For example, if this week’s grammar lesson is about adjectives, have your child stick adjective post-its around the house for extra practice.
A newsletter may seem like a lot of extra work for an already busy teacher. But once you get it started, it’s just a matter of updating it every week. And in the end, the smooth communication may save you from repeating yourself 150 times (as so many teachers often do), keep parents happy, and maybe even bring students’ grades up.