How to Use Your LMS for Parent Communication
Now more than ever, educators across the world are having to adjust the way we communicate with students, colleagues, and parents. With students learning remotely and many parents at home with them—stepping in as teachers, counselors, disciplinarians, and potentially maintaining their own work and schedules—it can be increasingly difficult to get through to someone on the phone. Emails are great and always have their place, but we must be considerate of the fact that, like most people, parents’ inboxes are inundated with messages as everyone attempts to navigate the new.
When it comes to the education of our students, especially now as we settle into distance learning for a while, we cannot afford missed opportunities to communicate with parents. Whether it’s to share resources, update parents on student progress or just to check in to make sure everyone is okay, every opportunity to connect with parents counts.
For many districts that have implemented a learning management system (LMS), there are myriad ways to communicate with parents consistently and directly while keeping a record and tying back to student profiles.
Let’s discuss a few ideas that you can implement today:
Help parents access the LMS.
Start by ensuring parents can access your learning management system and have basic knowledge of how to navigate to student data, class and teacher pages, assignments, and communication functions. Since many people are visual learners, it may help to record a video with step-by-step instructions that can be emailed to parents. This can easily be done at the class, school, or district level. Consider including details on:
- Student usernames and passwords
- How to send direct messages to teachers, staff, and administrators
- How to check student progress in classes
- How to find messages sent from teachers and administrators
- Basics on helping students submit work and/or take assessments (as many students who were using an LMS before may already know)
Create parent groups.
Communicating with parents through groups on the LMS can be very efficient for sharing general information to everyone at once. They’re also a great way to facilitate dialogue and collaboration between the parents. Many times, a fellow parent can answer a question in the group or provide a resource. Groups give parents (and teachers) an opportunity to crowdsource ideas, strategies, and tools that everyone can reference quickly.
These groups can be solely for parents and the teacher, or they can include the students, as well. If you decide to create groups for your students’ parents be sure to give clear instructions on how to join and access the group before you share any pertinent information.
Keep a calendar and organize assignments.
It may seem like an insignificant part of the overall usage of the LMS, but maintaining an organized calendar for students and parents can ease a lot of stress. It’s an indirect form of communication that can keep everyone on the same page. For parents, being able to see upcoming due dates and schedules at-a-glance for their students is invaluable. And the benefit for the teacher, of course, is that the age-old “I didn’t know it was due” excuse can officially be retired.
Posting assignments regularly will help parents not only know what is coming up, but they can also see if their students have submitted assignments. This adds a layer of accountability for students, who should be keeping track of assignments and turning in work on time, but also teachers who are responsible for grading and providing feedback in a timely manner, and parents who are responsible for ensuring their students complete assignments.
Staying connected is increasingly important as we navigate distance learning. For more distance learning resources check out our Digital Learning Readiness Kit at schoology.com/prepare.