One of the most important responsibilities of educators is communicating with the parents of the children they serve. At Fredericktown Elementary School, we take that responsibility seriously, and we continuously strive to improve the quality and quantity of communication. With social media and other technologies that have emerged in the last few years, we have created a structured approach to reach our parents as effectively and efficiently as possible.
We have adopted Remind text messaging as our primary means of getting quick and useful information to our parents. Each teacher has the ability to send announcements to the parents of their students. These announcements can be class-wide or individual. Parents are also able to message the teacher from the Remind website or mobile app.
“Using Remind is an easy way to send out reminders and keep parents informed,” first grade teacher Melissa Sebastian said. “Parents also use it to communicate with me.”
All users who join a class at FES also receive school-wide messages that are sent by Principal Joe Clauser. These include messages about school cancellations and information about how to stay involved with the school.
“Remind is a great way to strengthen the home and school connection,”first grade teacher Jessica Slinkard said. “It allows a two-way communication between families and schools.”
The messages can be delivered in the Remind app or as a text message on the user’s cell phone, making it a very convenient way for quick communication.
Teachers at FES like Buffi Ayyagari have been using Remind to communicate with the parents of their students for several years.
“Using Remind is the best home/school communication tool I’ve had access to in my thirty years in education,” Ayyagari said. “It reduces paper usage while maintaining a record of conversations, and it is so versatile. I love it.”
During our recent use of Alternative Methods of Instruction (AMI) when we couldn’t be at school because of snow, our teachers were able to send out daily messages to provide direction and support for parents as they helped their children complete their AMI work.
“Using Remind allows my students’ parents and me to quickly and easily contact each other at any given time,” second grade teacher Sarah Burlison said. “It also helps with daily communication including student behavior and classroom/school activities.”
We currently have almost 800 active users who receive Remind messages from FES, and we sent more than 9,000 messages in 2021. If you would like to connect with us through Remind, just text @fpsk12es to 81010. If you would like to join a specific classroom, ask the teacher for his or her Remind code.
Our Facebook presence has become one of our highest priorities when it comes to sharing information with our parents and the community. We started the page in 2016, and since then, our audience has grown to more than 2,100 followers. While our page is followed by community members, extended family, and friends, our target audience is the parents of our students. Our current audience is 83% women and 45.3% women aged 25-44.
In 2021, the reach of our Facebook page was 60,586. This is the number of people who saw any content from our page or about our page. When we announced that the FEMA shelter was open Oct. 24, the post reached more than 5,600 readers, making it the most-read post of 2021. Being able to get the word out to the community that we were available for them during the storm was very important to us. First grade’s Dad & Me Night pictures had the second-highest reach with more than 5,300.
Posts with the most interaction are almost always the ones that include pictures of students. Ten of the twelve posts with the most “likes” and “shares” since 2019 have been those that are celebrating the achievements of students. Parents love seeing their kids, and we try to share as many pictures as we can that showcase students.
“I love that I can share pictures of my child that the school posts while she is having fun at school,” Abby Neel said.
Whether it’s daily work in the classroom, monthly behavior celebrations, or class holiday parties, we can almost guarantee that if we include pictures of our students learning or having fun, interaction with the post will increase.
Most recently, we asked parents to comment on one of our posts and share a picture of their student while they were home and we were implementing AMI. Dozens of parents took the opportunity to connect with the school by interacting on the post. Our staff enjoyed seeing pictures of their students completing their school work and enjoying the snow days.
Many parents comment on the amount of information that is shared on Facebook.
“It is a great resource for all the information I need to know about what is taking place at school,” Neel said. “I never have to worry that I am missing important information from school because the Facebook page has it all.”
If you would like to connect with us on Facebook, visit fb.me/fpsk12es.
Our kindergarten teachers have adopted Seesaw, a platform that incorporates the messaging features of Remind with an online portfolio that allows students and parents to upload work samples, and for teachers to provide feedback on their work. Teachers can share instructional videos to provide reinforcement of concepts and opportunities for additional practice at home. They can also share videos of their day, and parents can post videos of their child from home. Parents who have students in kindergarten are automatically enrolled in Seesaw.
Denise Gipson said she appreciates the connection she has with her son’s teacher and the ability to send and receive content.
“My son loves being able to send pictures to his teacher and I like getting updates from his teacher about his school day,” Gipson said. “It’s so nice to get a picture of your kid when they’re having a party or just doing something special. We get videos to help us learn at home and information about school events. It’s nice that it’s all just there on my phone. Both of my boys have been in classrooms that use Seesaw and I just think it enhances the relationship between parents, teachers, and students.”
“I love how easily Seesaw enables parents, teachers and students to celebrate success together,” kindergarten teacher Heather Miller said. “Student growth and daily successes are shared with families through videos, pictures and work through Seesaw. Families have a glimpse into their child’s learning throughout the day and this helps build the home school relationships.”
Michelle Sharp is the parent of a student in Miller’s class. She recently told Miller, “As a mom, in the COVID world, I feel as though our parent classroom involvement is held back in many ways. I don’t want to miss anything, so having the ability to see and save photos of my kiddos is a plus. Not to mention it’s made this new season of AMI a breeze knowing I can still contact you quickly if needed.”
“I love the Seesaw app so much because it allows me to see the fun my child is having when I am not there and what she is learning about,” Amy Phillips said. “I can talk to her about things she did at school throughout the day. I did not have this opportunity with my older children so this has been a game changer.”
If you have a child in kindergarten but do not know your login information, contact your child’s teacher to get set up.
Not every attempt to use a platform has been a success. We have made three attempts to use our Twitter account. We currently have 40 followers, and we plan to make another attempt at building our Twitter following. If you would like to connect with us on Twitter, you can follow us @fpsk12es.
Fredericktown Elementary School has made communication with parents one of our top priorities. We are working hard to make sure that communication is not one-way, but that we build connections with parents and the community, and that we provide opportunities for meaningful participation in discussions.
“I love how accessible technology has made Teddy’s education,” Alexa Brwen said. “I feel so included when I get messages about his day, and I know that if I have any questions they will be answered swiftly. I couldn’t imagine not having these resources.”
Tish Hinkle is the parent of a first grader at FES.
“I always know what’s going on at the elementary because of the constant communication by the teachers and Mr. Clauser,” she said.
Using Remind, Facebook, Seesaw, and Twitter, we want to maintain the constant communication that parents have come to expect from our school.