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  • D. Barkes

Tips for Teaching Online: Communication


In my brain, the less my parents knew about what was going on at school the better

How did school go today? "Good" What did you learn today? "Nothing"...If you are a parent, you have had this discussion countless times. As a student, communicating with my parents was not high on my list. I still remember my Mom making study in middle school for a vocabulary test. It ended with me crying and throwing my notebook. In my brain, the less my parents knew about what was going on at school the better.


Are the parents/guardians of students in your course flying blind in regard to what is going on in your class? If you are an elementary school teacher, you probably send home work in book bags and parents are fairly involved in their student's learning. However, middle and high School teachers probably have a very different story to tell.

Communication during the regular school year is important, but communication during online learning is paramount to effective online instruction

One are that can improve our online instruction is communication with our parents/guardians of students in our course. Communication during the regular school year is important, but communication during online learning is paramount to effective online instruction. The great thing is we have a variety of effective ways to keep parents/guardians informed. We have the dreaded phone call where you hope and pray it goes to voicemail. We also can send the informal and boring email, but no one wants another boring email. There is a better way to keep everyone up to date and involved.

The solution is actually something I wrote about a long time ago...Smore. The tool is awesome, because it creates a visually appealing newsletter that is easy to create and has the ability to load videos, images, and other really cool tools. However, the tool is just part of the awesomeness. The way to make a Smore extremely effective with parents/guardians is to showcase student work. When is the last time that a parent/guardian actually saw the work their students complete in middle and high school? I love to send student work, because it serves two purposes:


1. It creates a relationship and a level of trust between you and the parent/guardian.


2. It encourages students to make awesome work. Who doesn't love having their work shared and bragged on?


What does an effective Smore look like that shares student work with parents/guardians? I am so glad that you asked! Check out the Smore I sent during week 2 of online learning to parents/guardians below:

Smore is an awesome tool. However, it is not the only one. The key is that you are communicating with parents/guardians and are sharing student work. It will give families a better topic to discuss than simply, "What did you learn today". Plus, you may be surprised how much your students enjoy having their work shared. Making a Smore or other newsletter and sharing student work? I would love to know. Please feel free to share with me too! Need ideas on what students can make in your course? Check out my posts on creating awesome project-based learning assignments HERE and HERE.


Online learning presents new challenges for us to overcome. Teachers are doing an amazing job balancing all of the responsibilities of home and school. We are almost at the end of this challenge. There is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. I hope that these short online tips have helped you through this challenging time. I look forward to continue sharing my experiences as an online content creator with you as we journey through this together. As always, thank you for taking the time to read. If you don't already, please subscribe to the site and I will send you awesome tips like this directly to your inbox! You can also find me on Twitter @teachandcoachga.


Have a great day!

D. Barkes

Cumming, GA 30028

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