In most cases, parents said, school leaders provided too little information, too late. While teachers fared slightly better in our study, parent expectations regarding classroom-home communications sometimes went unfulfilled.
Parents today seem to have an almost insatiable desire to stay connected to their children electronically, and as such, they greatly appreciate frequent updates about their children’s progress—as well as online access to homework assignments, grades, attendance, discipline reports, teacher notes, and student portfolios.
When parents perceive a communication void, they will work to fill it, by creating their own mobile apps, alternative social media sites, blogs, electronic newsletters, and distribution lists. The same is true for students.
Two students at Guilford County Schools’ Weaver Academy of Visual and Performing Arts created a mobile app last year to help promote the school and keep their peers, parents, and teachers in the loop about performances, events, and other news.
Originally designed to operate in a Microsoft Windows environment, the app has been adapted this fall for Android and Apple operating systems. The app includes a number of cool features, including:
- A locator button that provides directions to the school from the smart-phone user’s current (or any) location;
- The Buzz, a weekly newsletter with dates of important events and information;
- The names of Weaver staff members, along with contact information, so eMails can be sent from the phone to each person.
- A list of the courses offered at Weaver, which also serves as GCS’s countywide career and technical education center;
- An art gallery that allows art students to upload pictures of their creations; and
- A link for the phone number to the front office that dials it directly from the phone.
Excited by the initial response to their app, the students and Weaver administration already are planning to expand the content. Plans for future “buttons,” or links to high-interest student and parent content, include: