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Focusing on digital literacy and improving overall educator-parent communication can help create change in the classroom.

Educator-parent communication doesn’t have to be a struggle

Focusing on digital literacy and improving overall parental communication can help create change in the classroom

Key points:

When I think about the challenges and tribulations facing us as educators today,
none are more urgent, in my opinion, than improving the communication links between educators and parents. While we’ve had advancements in society like social media and technology, which have made communication between the two more possible and available, there is still a disconnect, specifically in the areas of digital literacy and communicating with parents via more unconventional means, as well as getting them more involved in their child’s education experience.

First off, I would argue that educators need to work on improving the digital
literacy of their students’ parents. Educators should examine the number of
parents who are not knowledgeable about the various methods of communication that are available to them through their school district. Building a comprehensive plan as to how to get them to a place where they are able to navigate freely through the various methods of communication that the school uses is a priority. Some ideas may include workshops, seminars, and other methods of training.

In my school in particular, I have many parents who don’t speak or comprehend English and rely solely on their children to translate for them in order to communicate. We have to realize that while we are in a 21st century digital world, not everyone has the digital literacy skills to navigate the world today.

Once you have the digital literacy issue resolved by providing more training for
parents, you can also focus on another issue, which is the simple fact that parents are very busy people also! As I stated earlier, teachers in the digital age are going to have to try new ways to reach parents when they have full schedules themselves. Something as simple as text messages has the power to be highly effective in reaching those busy parents.

According to an article from Screencastify, “a Columbia University study showed a 12 percent increase in attendance and a 27 percent decrease in course failures when parents received weekly texts about student progress.” While a phone call might be more personable and straight forward to the teacher, a weekly text message might be more convenient for the parents and could lead to a higher likelihood of parents responding back and working with teachers on their child’s educational goals.

Getting parents involved can be crucial, as noted in an article by Caralee Adams,
where it was stated that “one study of 71 high-poverty schools found that when
teachers were active in outreach to families, students’ reading and math scores
improved at a 50 percent faster rate in reading and a 40 percent rate for math.” This could be huge for when it comes to shrinking that achievement gap that exists across all demographics in this country.

Every school is different, and I can only speak to the experiences that I have as a
high school teacher living in central Minnesota, where the number of students who live in poverty outweighs those who don’t. Parent communication itself is often a struggle for teachers, and there is pressure on teachers to talk one-on-one via a telephone call or email. The simple facts are that overall communication between teachers and parents have been declining for several years now. According to an article by Jessica Winter, “in a national survey that was published in 2013, only four out of ten K-12 families reported receiving a phone call about their child in the preceding school year.”

My own colleagues have also mentioned their desire to get parents more involved with their child’s educational experience. The main issue is that many parents are unaware of, or just simply need training in, the methods that we use to communicate with parents. Long gone are the days of high attendance at parent-teacher conferences, and here we are in an age where most people have very little time to themselves, let alone time to go to their child’s school and have a conversation with their child’s teacher or to receive a phone call and the ability to have a quick conversation with their child’s teacher. We need to change that, but many are left at a loss as to how they are going to accomplish this massive undertaking. The biggest thing is that educators can’t be afraid to try more unconventional tactics in order to reach parents and to think outside the box.

I’m not saying that I have all the answers, and I know there are so many
ways to reach the parents of our students, but by focusing on digital literacy and
improving overall parental communication, you can be effective and actually create
change in your classroom. It takes a village to raise a child, and getting everyone in that village together and on the same page will definitely help as we navigate through this new digital world that we live in.

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