Engaging parents is critical to my success as a teacher. Therefore, I have to be intentional and creative with the means, by which, I communicate. Many school districts have adopted online gradebooks to keep parents informed, but it doesn’t work for every demographic. I noticed that my students’ parents prefer to have something in hand to let them know how their children are performing. I also know that regularity in communication is necessary. Therefore, I decided to develop a weekly progress report.
This form allows me to quickly check off how students performed in four areas – Work Habits, Attendance, Effort and Attitude, and Behavior. These four areas have a direct impact on students’ grades, so I thought it was important to keep parents aware of them. I give them to students on Friday,and they should return them to school on Monday with a parent’s signature. I use a master spreadsheet that tracks the levels of students’ performance on a weekly basis just in case a student doesn’t return his/her progress report with a parent’s signature.
Students can earn up to four points per category for a total of 16 points per week. Then, students are given a star based on the number of points they earned each week. Many students want to go for the gold. I remember when the first red star was given, the class was very disappointed in the student. They even offered the student tips for improvement. I circle the points they earned and place the appropriate colored star at the top of the progress report. Students and parents look forward to receiving this every week.
Since I send the weekly progress report home on Fridays, I like to send parents a reminder text message. I tried for two years to get parents to subscribe to the Remind app. That never worked. However, students’ parents respond when I send them a text message. So, I decided that I would send mass text messages to alert parents that I was sending progress reports home. I searched for an app that would let me send a group text message without everyone in the group being annoyed by the responses of others. Mass Text by DALLinc allows me to send a group text message on my Android phone. I can also send customized messages by using a template and inserting variables like students’ first names. I also use Mass Text to alert my students’ parents about upcoming tests and important assignments that will be due.
Using these methods really help my students. Their parents appreciate the effort that I extend to keep them connected to our classroom. In turn, they make sure their children are doing their part.