I’ve been a big fan of using ClassTag to simplify the way you communicate with families (you can read my review of the free app here). Today I’ve invited Danielle, a first grade teacher in New York City, to share how ClassTag has made things easier for her AND her students’ parents. Thank you, Danielle, for telling us about your experiences!
I chose to be a teacher to help children be successful at school so they got the best possible start in life. I know that despite my best efforts in the classroom, it is only half of the opportunity. Parents are the first and most important educators for their kids and I always strived to get them involved in my classroom to support my teaching and build a strong and thriving community.
But guess what? As many of you, probably, I was challenged to reach some of them, channel parents’ efforts to the right kinds of engagement and frankly even build trust with others. The biggest issue in my classroom over the years is that parents are not checking folders or getting all the information and extra work that I would send home. So, I used to have the same parents involved over and over and struggling to get support and involvement I and my students needed from 50% of the parents. All I would get from them is complainst: “I didn’t see this information” or “I didn’t know I was supposed to do this with my child”.
I knew there was a better way and tried to find a tool that can help me achieve my objective to involve parents. I went from one solution to the other in the four years I’ve been teaching without clear results. These tools either created more work for me, were hard to use or parents simply ignored them and as a result nothing seemed to improve after all the efforts.
How ClassTag works–see it in action!
This past year, I was invited to be a part of ClassTag’s pilot program and I took another chance. I had my doubts going in, given my prior experience, but once I saw ClassTag’s platform I was very intrigued by its simplicity, very intuitive design and fun feel to it.
ClassTag is truly transformational. I have never seen this level of parent support before Creating a system that gets you consistent results in parent engagement is not only possible, but it is easy and fun too with ClassTag.
What I discovered over the past year of using it completely changed my perception of what is possible and truly transformed by classroom. I build a close knit community with my parents and kept myself very organized with a system that consistently delivers great parent engagement.
I used to think that parent engagement was a lot of work because of all the follow up e-mails I needed to send to get parents’ attention, weekly e-mails I used to write on the weekends to update parents, and the need to remind parents at the dismissal pick up about some important events. It was not only taking a lot of my time, but occupied a lot of my attention and was always in the back of my mind.
I found that free ClassTag platform makes it delightfully easy to put a system in place, improve engagement, and save you time along the way. 90% of parents signed up for ClassTag within days. I had parents thanking me for this new way of communication, and as one parent told me: “Now I feel like a better parent. I always know what is going on and it is so easy to get involved”.
There are so many features I love about ClassTag, but here are my favorite three:
1. Easy one-click signups for field trips, parent-teacher conferences, and events in the classroom/school community. Parents bring materials into the classroom that the teacher requests through the To-Do List. It is so easy and it automatically reminds them without the teacher having to follow up!
2. The automatic Week-at-a-Glance feature. I don’t have to rewrite any of the information I would normally write in a weekly email or newsletter to parents because it’s already done for me! ClassTag automatically pulls all upcoming events, and I can add a custom message. Parents get beautifully designed weekly summary in their inboxes every Friday.
3. Stats are simply amazing! I know exactly which families have been participating and engaged so I can reach out right from the stats page or make sure I can select them once they do volunteer.
Now that the new school year is coming up, I am very excited to use my favorite app with my new class because I know we are not only going to achieve amazing results, but also parents are going to love it!
Here’s a quick overview of how you can turn parents into partners with ClassTag, too!
Here’s how you can get started with ClassTag & get amazing results this year:
1. Prepare parents right up front. Set expectations at back-to-school night or as soon as you have parents’ e-mails that ClassTag is the way you are going to organize your classroom communications.
2. Add upcoming events to ClassTag before the beginning of the year so that you have the system in place before the year gets busy. Pin announcement to welcome parents, days off, events that you already know about, and to-do requests for any assignments (e.g., reading logs, sight word assignments, and whatever else you need parents to be aware of.)
3. Set aside 30 minutes on Wednesday or Thursday to add events and activities to ClassTag for next week and beyond. Add a custom message for the automatic weekly summary if needed.
4. Remember to share moments about what you are learning and how parents can support you. Share fun pictures from the classroom and field trips.
5. Monitor engagement with Stats to see how your parent community is responding.
This is what got me the results last year and I am very excited to share my lessons with you. Are you ready to create a system that consistently gets amazing parent engagement? Then, ClassTag is soon to be your favorite app!
Disclosure: ClassTag has compensated me via Syndicate Ads for sharing this post, but I do not get paid referral commissions for sign-ups. All opinions are my own, and I only share resources that I would use myself and recommend for others.
Latest posts by Angela Watson (see all)
- What to do when a student constantly refuses to work - September 18, 2016
- Why teacher-authors don’t give everything away free (& neither should you) - September 11, 2016
- How can teachers support and advocate for students in poverty? - September 4, 2016
- Share kids’ work with parents through Bloomz’ new student timelines - August 31, 2016