I was recently introducing some teachers to blogging when one of them said, "but they don’t even read our newsletter." She was right, most of the parents and students probably are not reading the newsletter that the school sends out. My suggestion was to create a blog. I made the suggestion knowing full well that many parents wouldn’t visit it directly on a consistent basis. I suggested maintaining a blog because from it you can launch a variety of outreach strategies to connect with parents and students. My basic strategy for reaching parents and students is outlined below.
1. Maintain a blog.
Update your blog on a consistent schedule throughout the school year. You don’t have to update it daily. Publishing a new post every Monday, Wednesday, and every Friday is sufficient. Monday’s post could be a list of what’s coming up during the week. Wednesday’s post could be reminders about assignments. Friday’s post could be a recap of the week.
2. Provide an email subscription option for updates.
Some parents will want updates emailed to them instead of having to visit your blog directly. Blogger offers a "follow by email" gadget that you can add to your blog. When parents use it they can subscribe to your blog through email. If you use WordPress for your blog, the Jetpack plug-in offers a free "follow by email" option. For more control over your email list, you can use paid services like FeedBlitz and Aweber to automatically email new blog posts.
3. Connect your blog to social media outlets.
When you publish a new blog post, share it on your school/ classroom Twitter and Facebook. Services like If This Then That have recipes for automatically publishing your blog posts to Twitter and Facebook. FeedBlitz, the service I use for email, publishes my new blog posts to Twitter automatically. Tools like Hootsuite give you the option to schedule social media posts in advance. Use Hootsuite to Tweet and or Facebook your blog post once per day for parents and or students who might have missed it earlier in the week.
4. Instagram it.
If you have a school/ classroom Instagram account that parents and students are following, post a screenshot of the latest blog post. Put the link to the blog post in your caption of the image.
Creating a system for getting your message out to parents and students will take you a little time to develop. Once you have a system down, you’ll find that it doesn’t take much time to create and send the updates. With a good system in place you’ll be reaching parents and students where they are instead of hoping that they come to where you are.
I’ll be covering this topic in much more depth along with many others in my July offering of Blogs & Social Media for Teachers & School Leaders.