In my blog-post back in August, I outlined my plans for using social media as a way to reach out to parents and offer them special access to what was going on in their child’s classroom. My plan was to create a class/school specific handle and use twitter as the main platform, and then to weave in the periodic use of HearMeOutApp and my own YouTube channel. My use of Twitter to share information with parents is not a novel idea. Many teachers have been doing this for years. However, what you may not have considered before reading this blog-post is integrating some sort of voice-note with your use of Twitter.
I reviewed a few different platforms over the summer but I settled on HearMeOut because the app integrated seamlessly with Twitter and I found it very easy to use. Each time I want to leave a voice note for parents I just open the app, record my message (42 second maximum), and the message posts directly to Twitter. My goal in speaking with the parents was to provide them with a window into our classroom so they might be able to ask their son or daughter specific questions about the content being taught. Every parent has asked their child, “What did you learn in school today?” The problem with this question is that it is vague. It would be more powerful if a parent could say, “I heard you are learning about chromosomes in science class from Mr. Smith, tell me more about it.” We show parents what is happening in our classes through pictures and text via Twitter. By using HearMeOut, I am also telling parents with my own voice.
In addition to HearMeOut, I have posted videos via my own YouTube channel to provide another way for parents to observe what is occurring in our classroom. Examples of videos I have posted through YouTube include: student presentations, a student entering my classroom in a 10-foot tall T-Rex costume on Halloween, and a motivational speaker giving advice during an assembly. I also recorded my 10-minute Back To School Night presentation in September. Back To School Night is a great event for parents because it is their chance to see (maybe for the only time) all of the teachers that their children spend every day with. It is also an event that is very difficult for many parents and guardians to attend. Being aware of this fact, I sought to create a way for parents and guardians to be a part of BTSN even if they could not physically be there. The video of my presentation that night turned out to be my most-watched post.
In support of the suggestions I am outlining here, I would like to share data I collected from a survey (surveymonkey.com) I administered to the parents of my students during the Thanksgiving break. I have 101 students, and I received 41 responses to my survey. At the end of this blog-post I have included images for all of the questions and the breakdown of the responses received. Here are some highlights from the survey:
- Has the use of Twitter, the voice notes, and the videos made you feel more connected to our class and to the school?
- 43% answered yes and 34% answered somewhat
- Have the voice notes given you added insight into your child’s class?
- 51% answered yes and 26% answered somewhat
- Have you used the information from the voice notes to ask your child about our class and have discussions about it?
- 51% answered yes
- Would you like to see other teachers use some form of social media to communicate with you as parents and guardians?
- 61% answered yes
Chances are, if you are reading this blog-post, you are already using Twitter. What I have tried to share with you here is how I have extended my use of Twitter by connecting a couple of different platforms to it. HearMeOut for voice notes has been especially effective in enabling me to connect with the parents of my students. I am just one teacher and my reach is limited, but I have concrete evidence through these survey results that parents feel more connected to my classroom due to my efforts to reach out to them. I am excited by the fact that 51% of the parents that responded to my survey said that they have used the information I provide in my voice notes to have discussions with their child about what we are doing in class. Moreover, I think we can all be excited by the fact that 61% of the respondents said they would like to see teachers using some sort of social media. As educators, we all want to build a community in our classrooms. Through the use of social media, we have an opportunity to invite parents and guardians to be a part of that community as well. Good luck to you and have a great 2018!
Survey Results Below