By: MARINELA D. SERNA
A parent’s life can be pretty hectic at times. In between being a parent, going to work and everything else, it’s hard to stay involved with their child’s school and classwork.
Luckily, we can use technological advancement to help us teachers to engage parents in the different avenues. The penetration of mobile devices in the community provides for a more interactive way to communicate with parents. Now, whether parents are on their laptop or phone,they know what is happening with their child.Push notifications can be used to update the parent in real time, notifying them of concerns that needs immediate attention. This way the parents can contact teachers quickly and reply to messages. Parents’ information on what is happening in the classroom is exponentially increased. This gives them more chances to participate and engage with the teachers and the school.
But you may be asking how? As for me, I started using FB Messenger to augment my usual SMS means of communicating with parents. I’m sure many of us are familiar with this messaging app. You just need to add the parents or guardian in Messenger and you can send personalize messages. But one problem with this approach is that it takes up time for teachers and there is a chance that there are parents that does not have messenger. To address such issue, you need to research automation of messaging. Group chats are okay, but since you are in a group, only issues relevant to the group of parents can be discussed. Private messaging is still the best way to go. However, private messaging or PM’s are hard to manage and curate, it takes valuable time which many teachers/advisers do not have.
One way I found to help me engage parents in a private message is ManyChat. ManyChat is a messaging service online that creates a messaging bot that sends out messages in-masse to private messages. You can message schedules of parents/teacher conferences or school announcement like policies and regulation. This App or website also fetches the clicks and responses from messenger to help you personally attend to parents of your learner. For me, ManyChat have been a portal of engagement between me and the parents of my students who are in messenger which, surprisingly was a substantial number.
For parents who don’t have messenger, there are also SMS messaging bots that can be used. These are inexpensive and relies on internet connection that is available to teachers.
There are teachers who may say that this approach favors only the tech-savvy teachers.But if teachers don’t try out new technology to engage the parents of our learners, we are missing out on opportunities.