Saturday, July 6, 2013

Forget the phone...send a Facebook message

If you are like me, I dread having to spend my evenings calling parents. Most of the other teachers in my school will not call from their cell phones but I'm the type of teacher that wants to get home and work from my comfy couch instead of sitting in my classroom all evening. I do give my cell phone number out to parents because I've wanted them to feel free to call with a question if necessary. I didn't enjoy spending 45 minutes on the phone with each parent though so it was a sticky situation for me. To give my phone number and be on the phone all night or spend my evenings at school.

Well...I've got a way to change this! Are you ready to change your parent communication to EASY?

Create a Facebook group for your classroom! One my of fellow teachers asked me for help last year with creating a classroom Facebook group. I loved the idea so much, I created one for my classroom.

Here are the steps to create your Classroom Facebook group:
1. Make sure you create a separate Facebook account for school use. You don't want parents to Facebook stalk you!

2. Once you  have the Facebook account set up, click on the Home tab. This will show the News Feed in the middle and then a tab will be on the left side of your screen, with your profile picture on top.

3. Look on this side tab and find the section labeled Group. Click on Create Group. I have my group named Mrs. Harrell's Class 2013-2014, so parents will know from their home screen what they are looking at. On this screen, make sure you switch the Privacy to secret. I had a couple students who could not have public photos taken but it was okay to post them on this site because only the parents in my classroom could see them.

4. Choose an Icon for your group, probably something school related. Click Okay. If you don't want an icon, you can Click Skip.

5. Once you have this set up, Facebook will take you to your Group page. Make sure you Click on About to add a description to your group.

Why a Classroom Facebook Group?
I have used my Classroom Facebook Group to post
-Homework for the week,
-A weekly update with test and project dates
-A schedule for special area classes, field trip dates, etc.
-Photos of students in the classroom working in groups or presenting.
-Videos of the students

Tips before you begin
1. I would recommend having the group already made before your Back to School Night/Open House so parents can see how helpful this site will be for them.

2. Post a link to this School Facebook page on your website. That way parents will see this link and can add you as a friend.

3. Make your School Facebook page, not group, public. That way parents can search for you to be able to quickly find you. Also, you might want to make your personal Facebook page private so parents won't add that one instead.

4. I added both of my principals to this page because I wanted parents to know the principals see everything I post. That way, they know I am not going to post anything inappropriate.

Do I like it?
I will never again use my phone as the only way of communication to my parents. I LOVED having a Facebook group, and I've already created mine for the 2013-2014 school year. I plan on keeping last year's group together so I can see photos of previous students and watch them grow up when they're out of our school.

Another good thing is that you really get to know your parents! Since our world has turned down the technology corridor, Facebook is an easy way to get in contact with parents. You can see who has viewed your posts, which holds them accountable for knowing what is going on in the classroom. Also, you can see what your students and parents like to do outside of the classroom, whether it is sports, crafts, academic activities, etc.

Once your parents join the Facebook group, they will communicate with you via this site. Parents will feel as if they are included in their child's education. I have even had parents asking me via the Facebook Group this summer for ways to help their child prepare for 3rd grade. Trust me, your phone will no longer be ringing off the hook at night and you won't have many messages on your school phone. You can quickly send a message to the entire class or to one parent and then continue with your night.

Finally, during my end of the year evaluation, my principal asked me if I enjoyed the Facebook site. She mentioned that many of my parents commented that the Facebook group was so great! Actually, many of these parents questioned me as to whether the 3rd grade teachers have a Facebook site too. I guess I need to get them on board.

Good luck! Please let me know if you already have a Facebook group for your class and how you use it.

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