I had a conversation recently with Petra Ablaza, a special needs middle school teacher from California. She is passionate about encouraging all teachers to improve parent communication. This podcast episode is excellent whether or not you teach special ed, but Patra does give great ideas for teachers who have nonverbal students. We share some great tools to improve parent communication for special and general ed classes.
We discuss the importance of building relationships with parents, as well as several tools we have used over the years, including a communication booklet/log, monthly/weekly newsletters, phone calls, check-off lists, and apps. Plus Petra gets her students involved as well by having them complete a daily activity that is sent back and forth from school to home,
which she offers as a freebie!
- Hear the answer to Kaylene’s question about why the first year of teaching is the hardest. Many teachers answered her question!
- Take Lisa’s Communication Challenge and be encouraged in the process. If you take the challenge please let Lisa know on Instagram (her handle is @lisagoodellequip) or in the Facebook Group (Called “Help for Special Educators Podcast”).
We did have some technical difficulties during our interview and some information about the communication apps was lost. (Thank you, Patra for your patience!!) So read below for more information:
Remind, Bloomz and Class Dojo are teacher/parent communication apps that can be downloaded to smartphones. All these apps work like texting while keeping your cell phone info private. Below sure check them all out, since they have unique features (such as Class Dojo has a behavior management component) and may also be available on desktops (which is great if your district doesn’t allow you to use your own personal smartphone for school business).
Remind is a great way to communicate efficiently in real-time with parents/guardians and also has the ability to translate messages. Messages can be sent individually or to the whole class or small groups. Pictures and attachments can also be added.
Bloomz allows teachers to give classroom updates, send class messages or private messages, manage a classroom event calendar and create parent volunteer or parent conference sign-ups.
Class Dojo allows teachers to track student behavior and to share the information with parents/guardians. The app can also be used to communicate class messages as well as private messages.
I appreciate how Petra shared her journey as she learned to improve parent communication, and how she has embraced technology options. And I know you will appreciate her FREE Daily News resource in her TpT store that is linked below. Please comment if you know of other effective tools to improve parent communication.
Episode 6 Show Notes
Guest: Petra Ablaza
Petra Ablaza has been an Education Specialist for 14 years. She is currently teaching in the middle school setting working with students with moderate/severe disabilities. She has had experience working with students at the elementary level as well as adults. Petra is married and has two sons. Being a special needs mother has given her a different outlook on teaching and the importance of creating open lines of communication with her students’ families. Petra’s TeachersPayTeacher store is called Sailing the Spectrum.
Links and Resources
- Petra’s Daily News Free Resource
- Sailing the Spectrum TpT Store
- Petra on Instagram: @sailingthespectrum
- Class Dojo.
- Lisa’s English/Spanish Communication Form, “Something Happened Today”
- To sign up for Lisa’s Email List to get free ideas and strategies, use the “Subscribe” sign-up on the right sidebar of the page (or scroll down if using a mobile device).
Podcast Host: Lisa Goodell
Lisa Goodell, M. A., launched the Help for Special Educators Podcast on April 1, 2019. She has been teaching for over 23 years, including third grade, resource/inclusion (RSP), and mild/moderate self-contained (SDC). Currently, she is an itinerant orthopedic impairment (OI) specialist/teacher for students birth to 21 years old in all general ed and special ed settings. She has been honored as “Teacher of the Year” at both the elementary and secondary level. She lives in rural Central California with her family and a bunch of cats. Connect with Lisa here.