By Melissa Kaiser
As teachers, we know that parental involvement is crucial to the success of a child’s learning. There is a direct correlation between engaged parents and a child’s morale, performance, and self-esteem. The more you can reassure and educate parents, the more confident they become in their child’s progress. Over and over you hear the same message… highly engaged parents = confident life learners.
I have been a Montessori teacher for 8 years, and have always been considered a role model in parent communication. I did everything right. I sent emails, multiple reminders about events, chatted with parents at pick up/drop off, I would even text parents pictures of amazing learning moments I had captured in the classroom… But I was still answering emails about what their children were doing daily. I was still hearing that parents weren’t aware of the event I had reminded them of. And so much more.
I live in Redmond, WA, the land of Microsoft. Technology is embedded in everything our families do, and here we get a condensed view of what the world is moving toward. Fast paced, with a need to know information in real time. This puts direct pressure on teachers to perform at a lightning fast pace, while involving parents more than ever before, in a way they are able to process information. And it is becoming an increasingly unattainable goal for the educator.
At the beginning of this year one of my parents brought in something he wanted me to try. He had developed a free app that would change parental engagement forever…. He walked in and said “Let me show you Bloomz, you are going to love it.”
Bloomz is completely free, and is accessible from your computer, phone or tablet. When you invite your class community, they get to choose whether or not they want to create an account. If they are reluctant for any reason, no big deal. Any communication you do in Bloomz will get sent in email form as long as they have been invited to the class. So you never have to worry about who has seen the information and who hasn’t.
When you create an account, here is what you will get…
1. A secure and private network (the only people that will ever see your content are those you invite. Period)
2. Two way messaging between parents and teachers- Remember the texts I mentioned earlier? Now I don’t have to give out personal information
3. A classroom page that works just like Facebook. Parents can “like” and “comment”, you can post updates and pictures, etc. The best part? With Bloomz YOU own your content…
4. Photo sharing– teachers as well as parents can share photos or upload to albums making yearbook preparations a breeze.
5. Calendaring features (all with built in reminders)
- parent teacher conference sign ups (these take 30 seconds to set up- no joke)
- event planning with item and volunteer requests
- in class volunteer signups
- no school days
- announcements (these have a time stamp that will keep them at the top of your feed
- alerts (used for emergencies, these will send a direct cell phone notification as well as a
- and so much more…
Just taking a few minutes each day to post a picture and a description of what my students were doing in class virtually eliminated the need for the hours of parent communication I was doing each night. Now parents don’t have to deal with multiple accounts across many different websites just to manage their children’s lives. Everything is finally in one place!
This started in my classroom, and now our school has implemented Bloomz for the entire community.
We get more responses from parents, and more engagement from the kids as well. (e.g. my kids are bringing in their sound of the week sharing every Monday because I have a reminder set up in the event on Sundays to bring their sharing the next day.) I can say, without a doubt, that this app has completely changed my teaching life.
In January I decided to work part time at school, and part time for Bloomz, so that I can help get the word out to as many teachers as possible. Check it out- sign up- and start saving time!
Melissa is a Montessori Lead Teacher in Redmond, WA. She is also the community manager for Bloomz. Check out her post for Montessori specific ways to maximize Bloomz in your classroom at www.bloomz.net/montessori
You can get started and sign up for your free account at www.bloomz.net If you have any questions, or are interested in attending one of their free webinars, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact Melissa if you are an international school and need help getting your address set up.