A teacher of the year discusses a few key communication platforms she likes using. 

GUEST COLUMN | by Daisy Marino

CREDIT RemindCommunication has been a constant in my world this past year. At work, our goal has been to become transparent. In grad school, I wrote about it in almost every reflection I turned in. I cannot even tell you how many articles I have read over the importance of internal and external communication in a school district. With communication being a key component to an effective classroom, school, and district — I have found it extremely helpful to seek

Communication is one of the simplest ways to help foster student success. It is so important to communicate using different platforms so that all stakeholders are targeted. 

out what other schools and teachers are doing to implement the most useful communication system for their community of learners and stakeholders. In this 21st century, technology-driven world in which we live, communication is easier than ever to implement. If executed properly, communication can be the most powerful element of your daily routine. Here are some of the platforms that I use to communicate with students, parents, administrators, and community members:

School YouTube Channel

This year my school started a YouTube channel that serves teachers, parents, and students. This has been a great way to effectively get important information out that’s imperative for all stakeholders to know. For parents, our assistant principal uploaded dress code videos and procedures for student drop off, which helped answer questions that are often asked at the start of the school year. Teachers have made tutorial videos over various types of apps and web 2.0 tools that parents, students, and other teachers can use to make their classroom flow smoothly. Even students have uploaded videos. Students have helped teachers make instructional videos for their peer, which in turn helps parents out at home when they get stuck on tricky homework problems. Parents have embraced this YouTube channel with open arms. They see it as a means of communication that teachers are providing because they truly care about their students. It’s a win-win situation.

Remind

I was introduced to Remind over a year and half ago. The classroom communication plan I utilized in my class prior to me discovering Remind reflected the same components that I saw my teachers in grade school implement. Their system was not bad 25 years ago, but for a classroom in 2015 it just was not working. When I started using Remind I found it was easy, effective, and well received by parents. We have all been there: you send a paper note home and later discover it wadded up inside a desk or under a bus seat. Do I still send paper notes home? Yes. Some parents prefer that. But in the last year and a half I can tell you for a fact that most of my parents, in a rural town in Southeast Texas, prefer a text sent straight to their phone. The power doesn’t just stop there.

With their new features you can now send attachments. Listen, I am not just a teacher I am also a mom — a mom to a very cute, but very forgetful, 10-year-old boy. Many times we have pulled into the driveway to discover that the backpack with the spelling words were left at school. Sigh.

Last week, as I mulled this over and wondered how many moms were going through the same thing. I thought, “Well, fix it Daisy. Fix that for your busy working parents. Send the spelling list home via Remind.” An a-ha moment for sure.

I took a picture of my words for the week, uploaded it in the platform, and with the push of a button every student that was signed up for my Remind (whether they forgot the list in their locker at home or not) had their words to study.

The next day, a woman that I work with said (and I quote), “I am so glad you sent that list last night. My child left his at school, and we were panicking.” Powerful. They’re now offering a new feature they call Stamps. Parents and students can easily “check” information that I send, which lets me know that they received the message. This helps me feel reassured as a teacher that everyone is on the same page.

School Facebook Page

Our school Facebook page was started as a means to tear down the four walls of the school. From school closures to student artwork being featured throughout the day, this new technology has been embraced with open arms throughout the community. By showcasing student artwork and projects that are happening on a daily basis we have allowed parents to virtually walk the halls of Warren Elementary School when they physically can’t due to work, appointments, errands, or just life in general. Parents have been extremely appreciative of the way we provide insight into their students’ education. When parents are able to see exactly what their child is working on throughout the week they are able to communicate with them about what is most important to them in that moment. The fact that our Facebook page is starting conversations around the dinner table is downright powerful.

Communication is one of the simplest ways to help foster student success. It is so important to communicate using different platforms so that all stakeholders are targeted. As an educator it’s vital to know your crowd. It doesn’t matter how you get the information out as long as it is received. The above three means of communication play a vital role in the way my classroom functions. I also have a classroom Twitter account, e-mail, the trusty ‘ol copy machine, and my students’ favorite – postcards!

Daisy Marino, M.Ed., is a fourth grade ELA teacher in Warren, Texas where she serves as the Campus Technology Mentor. She was the 2014 Teacher of the Year in her district, and presents at various conferences throughout Texas where she shares her passion for implementing technology in the classroom. Write to: Daisy.marino@warrenisd.net  follow her on Twitter @daisyray215 or read her blog at: staartechers.wordpress.com