Using Classtag to Communicate with Parents
Parent communication. This is such a crucial component of our jobs. Throughout the years, contacting home has changed from phone calls to emails to apps and phone notifications.
My district has decided to go forward with using the website/app Classtag for all primary forms of communication. I will explain how I use it here!
What Wasn't Working
Prior to Classtag, email was my go-to for parent communication. Phone calls were next to impossible during my busy day with so many students. So, if there was a concern (not too pressing), I'd email.
There were/are so many problems with this. First of all, not everyone checks their emails regularly. I found myself emailing a parent several times to end up calling him/her for him/her to say they haven't check their email in days. Not only that, oftentimes, my email would go right to spam. It was so inconsistent and frustrating.
Phone calls are typically the direct line of communication, but this is so tough with most parents working during the day. The only time they can talk is at night and I do not call parents at night (some teachers do, but I draw the line there).
Plus, I liked sending out weekly updates. Since many parents don't check email regularly or are simply not getting the emails, I often felt like those who needed to really see my updates were not seeing them. Also, parents sometimes have the wrong email on file! I will seriously go months not realizing this until I have to make a call home. I'd be sending out weekly newsletters and they'd never be getting them...I'd have no clue!
All of these things were driving me crazy and I knew I wanted something that would be more reliable and hold parents accountable.
How I am Using Classtag
This school year, my district is doing hybrid learning. Students are coming in cohorts or are totally remote. Handing out notices is essentially banned due to coronavirus, so communicating successfully online is crucial.
My district wanted to streamline the process instead of teachers having all different communication methods. With Classtag, the entire district can be in its system. I am not really sure how that all works, but I am pretty sure administration sets all that up. Homeroom teachers added all their students' parent emails. Hopefully you have a system in which you can get all their emails easily...or share out a notice with a Google Form to gather their emails. If you are using this alone (not district-wide), you can put in all the classes you are teaching. After that, teachers can add other teachers to their main "classroom" or page.
One of the main ways I've been using it is to post daily announcements. In the announcement, I share a Google Slide that lists the goals for the day. I think this is especially helpful this year since kids are home a lot. So, you can click the + sign up top to make an announcement and share it to all classes you teach.
What I love the most about Classtag is you can tell if parents see what you posted! Take a look at some screenshot below. It lists parents who have "seen" it and who have not. If you see a parent consistently not reading messages, you can contact them through other means.
I have Classtag set up on my phone with notifications. If a parent contacts me, I get an alert immediately and honestly, I usually respond pretty immediately since it comes right to my phone. Obviously, if I am in the middle of teaching, I don't, but I find that I get to it much quicker having it on my phone.
Much like the announcements, you can see if a parent has "read" a message. So, if a parent hasn't seen it, I email or call.
At the top of each class page, you have the ability to post "quick links". I've added some really important information into each class that I teach. I tried not to put much because being in middle school, I am sharing that page with other teachers. This is a great spot to keep schedules, Zoom links, etc.
Students also have "backpacks" in which you can add files. I haven't really used this yet because you have to do it individually per student. This could be used for specific files to IEP students, for example, or sharing student work. Parents can also add to this backpack if there is something they want us teachers to access.
There are lots of other great features I haven't dabbled in yet. You can do supply lists, create conferences, events, etc.
Classtag is a great one-stop shop for all things parental communication. It does take time to figure out on the middle school level, but basically you have separate "classes" to access and can add items to all those classes through Classtag. I've really found it so much quicker to utilize this than email! Parents also are on their phones a lot, so the app is perfect for that.
Want a CUSTOM BUNDLE from me? Click below!