Keeping all of your students’ parents in the loop is no easy task. There are unsigned forms to track, forgotten requests for volunteers, and phone calls about student progress to return. Not to mention that parent contact comprises so many different avenues of communication: we have to stay on top of calls, notes, email, voicemail, and more.
The ideal solution? To have one unified system or platform that supports two-way parent communication. And during the ISTE conference in Philadelphia this past June, I got to meet the founder and developer of an app that makes this possible: Bloomz.
Bloomz is an app that simplifies parent-teacher communication by allowing teachers to create a community with parents where they can exchange information in real time. I was already familiar with the Remind app and wasn’t sure how Bloomz was different until I downloaded it and saw for myself how much more the app does than just messaging.
Bloomz provides a platform where you as the teacher can do things like:
- Post status updates and photos
- Send messages and reminders (individually or to all parents)
- Create and share calendars
- Coordinate volunteers and field trip support
- Set up parent-teacher conferences
You can’t really rely on an app for parent communication if even one parent doesn’t have access to it. So I was totally sold on Bloomz once I realized it works across ALL devices. You and your students’ parents can use a PC, Mac, tablet, iPhone, or Android phone to access Bloomz. Plus, if a parent decides not to sign up for a Bloomz account, you can enter their email address in the app and they can receive email notifications instead whenever you post to Bloomz.
The app is also secure so only the people YOU invite can have access to info shared. Moreover, parents will only get a verified status when the school itself verifies their identity.
I’ve explored the app thoroughly and wanted to share a few of the most useful things you can do with it:
Create a community
In Bloomz, teachers create a “class” or community where they invite all their students’ parents. Within the class or community, you can also create subgroups which will help you group specific parents together for various purposes and types of communication.
Tell parents what kids are learning
Through the app, the teacher can post lesson resources, class activities, summaries of class progress (“Today we practiced…”), homework, and other important announcements that all the parents in the class can see. This way parents will always stay informed, regardless of whether students remember to give them forms and important notices.
Bloomz allows teachers to not only tell about what’s happening in class, but also show it through photos. How cool would it be to share pictures from field trips and other special events with parents in a secure setting? You could also post finished student projects and invite parents to celebrate what their children have accomplished.
Send direct messages and document private communication
Teachers can also send direct messages to individual parents (and vice versa) which makes addressing concerns and personal situations easy and quick. I like that the app stores all the communication securely so that you don’t have to keep a paper trail documenting your exchanges.
Enable parent-to-parent communication
A really cool and unique feature of Bloomz is that parents can exchange private messages with one another, as well. Often children develop friendships in class but it’s awkward for their parents to establish contact, get to know each other, and make arrangements for after-school activities. Bloomz is a simpler (and safer) way for families to get to know one another and build a real sense of community.
Schedule events and send reminders automatically
Letting parents know about upcoming events is also made simple with Bloomz. The app features a calendar where teachers can create events (with all the important details included such as venue and time) and invite the whole class or individual parents. The events can be set up with RSVPs and alerts so that you and parents can choose to be reminded when the event is coming up.
Request (and track) volunteers or supplies
Requesting for volunteers and materials can also be done through Bloomz. Teachers can select Volunteer Help and choose between Need Items or Need People, and enter the number of people or items they need, as well as when and where they’re needed. That means you don’t have to keep sending home requests for paper or hand sanitizer anymore! I love that the app shows parents whether a request has been filled or not so teachers don’t have to follow up about that.
Schedule parent-teacher conferences
Where has this feature been all my life? Bloomz has a dedicated conference function that allows teachers not only to set the date and time of the conference but also set the duration for each (how long you want the conference slots to be and how long the break in between them should be.) All you have to do is enter your available times, and the app automatically generates slots for the parents to choose from. Parents are notified through a customizable invite message that contains the link to scheduling their conference. The best part–rescheduling conferences is a breeze, and you’ll be notified right away if a parent cancels.
You can see more of Bloomz in action in this video:
One of the things that I like best about meeting the Bloomz team was seeing their passion for helping teachers and the way they listen to teacher feedback to know which features to tweak or add. For example, last month they released a requested feature to allow parents to join via a class code instead of an email invite. And, they’re working on offering translation for posts and comments into other languages (how awesome would that be!) as well as preparing to launch SMS support for account sign ups and notifications.
In addition to all the features for scheduling and coordinating that I shared above, what makes Bloomz stand out to me is the way it aims to create a sense of community around in the classroom through not only parent-teacher communication, but parent-parent communication. If you’re looking for ways to build relationships with and between families, check out Bloomz!
Disclosure: Bloomz has compensated me for the time I spent writing 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.