As a teacher, I am constantly Googling ways in which to better my classroom.  Whether it is Pinterest ideas for classroom design to free printables for my curriculum, I find you can pretty much look up anything these days and find some innovative ideas.  In one of my many late night browsing sessions, I ran across an article titled “Strategies to Improve Parental Involvement in the Classroom” written by Erica Loop and Demand Media.  Most teachers are always looking for better ways to engage their parent community, and I am no exception.  I decided to open it up and see what the article was all about.

They set the stage just like so many other articles, letting us know that Parental Engagement is critical in today’s classrooms- “From better school attendance to improved grades and higher motivation to succeed scholastically, involving parents in classroom activities benefits kids from toddlers to teens.”  But they really tried to focus on these three specific areas:

  1. Increasing awareness- If teachers have not created a useful way of disseminating information, many parents don’t even know there are volunteer options available. They suggest examples such as having a public parent board, classroom newsletter or website.
  2. Communication- The more teachers communicate with the parents, the greater their willingness to help out. They also point out the more parents initiate conversations with their child’s teacher, the greater chance of them helping out.  They also list “brief conversations during drop off or pick up, chats during events such as a school open house or even emails can work as effective communication tools.”
  3. Variety- The wider range of volunteer opportunities that are available, the more parents will sign up. As they put it, “Not every mom wants to bake cookies for the school fundraiser, carry the cash box for the 5th grade book sale or hand out snacks during the preschool party.”

After I read the article, I had a strange response…. relief!  Not relief in that I can relax and say, “Oh I am doing those things, I must have good parent communication/involvement.” And not even in the way that I can say “I am doing SO much more than that, I must have great parent communication/involvement.”

My relief felt after reading the article was this- “Man I used to spend so much time on all of that stuff.  I am so thankful for that time back to focus on other things crucial to the classroom.”  And this change happened when I added Bloomz to my classroom community.  It does the above and so much more with a quick post, or a picture shared, or an event/volunteer request created.  Each of those takes me a couple minutes now, and reaches everyone, regardless of where they are and how they like to receive information.  Instead of the couple hours it used to take to send an email, post pictures to a group account somewhere on the web, create a signup sheet and find somewhere to post so my parents would see it.  So. Much. Time. Gone.

Thank you Bloomz, for allowing me more time in my life for things like Pinterest.  I started off easy with my new-found time for DIY projects, and my old barn window (that had been sitting on my porch for months) turned out amazing as a picture frame!

Now I might actually have time to try my hand at turning an old dresser into a bookshelf…. go figure!  So wish me luck that my DIY skills end up with a finished product that belongs in my classroom, and not here!

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