Hi, I am Amy the teacher/blogger behind Teaching in Blue Jeans and I am very excited to be swapping blogs with Charlene today. First, before you judge me let me say that I do NOT get to teach in blue jeans everyday. I wish I did, but not so much. But I do love me some blue jeans. One day as I was thinking about my beloved blue jeans I started thinking about why I loved them so much: they are comfortable, oh so comfortable; I can dress them up or down which means they are versatile; and most importantly I just feel like myself in them. When I wear blue jeans I find that I am more willing to try something new or take a risk, more likely to have fun and be silly, more likely to focus and work hard (probably because I am not tugging at hose or thinking about my aching feet (but shoes – that’s another blog post entirely)). Somehow in my brain I went from thinking about all the reasons I love blue jeans to concluding that “the blue jean feeling” is exactly how I want my classroom to be. I want me students to be comfortable and feel like themselves. I want them to be willing to work hard, try something new, take risks, have fun and be silly. So there you have it – my Blue Jean Mentality and the idea behind Teaching in Blue Jeans!
Now let’s get down to business – Parent Communication. Now, I’m not talking about the phone call because Johnny was misbehaving, I am talking about the day to day to communication that helps parents stay more connected to their child’s classroom. In the past, I have done this through sending home notes and newsletters with my students take home folders. Move ahead a few years and those notes and newsletters began going out in digital form via e-mail. Today, I am not so sure that e-mail is our best bet as teachers. In our fast paced society, e-mail seems to have gone to the wayside and is being replaced with texting and social media. So it seems to me that if we want to communicate with our parents we need to do it in the way that they are communicating. This year I am branching out in an attempt to increase parent communication and hopefully involvement.
The first way I am doing this is by using a service called Remind101. This is a group texting service that is completely FREE! The other benefits of this service is that I don’t have to disclose my personal cell phone number when I send a text, and neither do the parents. It is super easy to get started. Here’s what you do:
1. Go to Remind101.com and create an account. When you go to the website you will see this.
Now, you might have better eyes than me, or maybe it’s my computer, but I didn’t see any labels on the boxes so I wasn’t sure what to type. So I did what any normal person would do, I clicked the blue Sign Up button without filling anything out. That brought me to this:
Yes – it worked! A page that told me what information to fill in. I simply filled in all the blanks with my information. After completing this and naming my class I was given a special phone number and texting code that I can give to my parents. It looked like this:
When my parents send a text to this number with the @mrsbiddiso message they will automatically be enrolled into my Remind101 Group. (Now if you try it out by entering the information above you will be joining my classroom texting group and I don’t know how exciting that will be. But, if you aren’t sure if this is the road for you, join my group and see how I use it in the coming weeks).
When I am ready to send a text, I can use the free Remind101 app or enter the message on the computer by logging in to my Remind101 account. Very easy! Here’s a couple things I liked about Remind101: 1 – I can schedule texts to go out at time that is convenient – say evening hours. I could even schedule out texts for days in advance like Picture Day and Field Trip reminders. 2 – I can add more than 1 class to my account. I am actually thinking about adding a second group for a club that I sponsor.
I am no texting guru – but I am taking the plunge. The parents that I have mentioned this to love the idea of getting information quickly and easily via text.
The next new method of communication I am going to use this year is Instagram!
I thought this would be a fun way to let parents see what we are doing in class! I can post pictures and let the kids help me come up with the (#) hash tag labels. The best part of it is that I can make the account completely private by turning on the privacy feature. This requires me to approve anyone who wants to follow the board. I will only be giving out the Instagram account name to my parents in order to keep the group private.
Last, I am hoping for approval to create a class Twitter account so that we can tweet to our parents and connect with other kindergarten classes around the world. I am waiting on district approval for this before I venture into the world of Twitter.
So there you have it. I am taking the “If you can’t beat em, join em” approach this year to parent communication. Now does this mean the old ways are gone, nope! Just will work at communicating in different ways to try and reach as many parents as possible. I would love to hear how you communicate with parents.