Your goal is to partner with parents. Yes all parents, even if the reason you communicate with parents differs, you want to communicate to positively move forward.
Methods have changed since you were in school. Once paper and the telephone were the only way to reach home. With the introduction of electronic means of communication, everything is easier, right? Erm, not exactly.
Technology tends to amplify existing practices.
When choosing any communication method you want to look for something which easily records your interactions, efficiently conveys the message, and promotes further interaction.
The Fewer, the Better
Establish the fewest, predictable channels home as possible.
There is a glut of apps and softwares which communicate home. In this important area of school-home communication, there is too much innovation and the market is saturated. This may mean different teachers each have different favorites. The larger the group to agree upon one primary and one secondary method of communication, the better the communication. If there is not predictability in how teachers communicate, the goal is obscured. The first truth to coalesce around is that using multiple methods of communication fragments the message potentially.
Redundancy is Key
Redundancy is not the enemy in communication. Differences are the enemy. Redundancy will help drive the message home. Messages home needs to be the exact same message regardless of channel. If different messages sent out via different channels you are training your partners at home that they ALWAYS have to check BOTH channels. However, if you train them by only giving the same message on both channels eventually they will be comfortable checking only one channel. This trust you cultivate with your partners at home is valuable. Consistently broadcasting the same message on each channel is essential to maintaining that trust. Therefore all channels must be known, receive the same information, and be held to that same standard.
A teacher likely has a favorite already, but can that teacher agree with team teachers, grade level teachers, or even at a school level to utilize a select couple of tools? If so, expect home participation to increase as the messages find their target more consistently. Consider families with children in multiple teams/grades/schools when making decisions. Aim to provide more clarity and less variety in methods and messages home. Your school/grade level/team will rise to the top of family opinions because your message will make it home consistently.
Is There an App for That?
But remember to decide on one or two as a team/grade level/school.
And be aware of the household experience, not just for those you teach.
Streamline – does this app provide fewer steps, more information, or at least fall in-line with existing ways families are receiving information from school?
Promote – are there select “channels” of communication which the school/grade level/team of teachers can point to for dependable, accurate information?
Simplify – does the school have the same methods for sharing the same message on multiple channels? This simplifies “finding out” for families.