Thursday, July 16, 2015

Using Facebook to Strengthen Home-School Connections

After reading this post, I decided to try using Facebook as a classroom communication tool.  It was super easy and successful.  Here is how I did it:

  1. I used my personal Facebook page to create a closed group.  Don't worry!  Families will only be able to see what the rest of the public can see on your page.  Just make sure to secure your privacy settings.  
  2. To create a closed group:  Look in the left hand column of your home page.  Under "Groups" click "Create Group".  Choose a name.  It will ask you to choose members.  I was not "friends" with any of my students' parents, so I just chose my husband.  You could also choose a teacher "friend".   Under "Privacy" choose "Closed".  Hit the "Create" button.  Then choose an icon.  Now your group is created and you can personalize the page.
  3. Now go to your group's page. Go to settings.  Make sure that under "Privacy" "Closed" is selected. Under "Membership Approval", I selected "Any member can add members, but an admin must approve them".  Under "Web and Email Address" create custom names that you can share with families.  Under "Posting Permissions" I selected "Only admins can post to group" because I did not want member to be able to post. I also selected "all group comments must be approved by admin".
  4. Then I created an informational letter and a picture release form to share with families.  I explained these at our Meet the Teacher night.
  5. When I got back the picture releases, I made a master list for myself. 

At the beginning of the school year, I initiated a discussion about Facebook with my students.  I explained that our class would have their own Facebook page.  The kids LOVED the idea and were super excited to get started. 
I explained to them that when we do things in class that they would like their families to see, then they can ask me to to take pictures/videos.  Whenever we did this, I would ask the children what they would like me to post about them.  I really tried to just use their words when posting.  
In addition to posting about our daily happenings, I also posted the same information that I included in our weekly print newsletter.  
The families truly appreciated this form of communication.  They liked that it was easy to access. They also loved seeing the pictures of their children.  When parents were unable to attend class and school events, they could see the pictures/videos on the group page.  This seemed to help them feel connected, if though they could not be there in person.  Many parent even commented that they hope their child's next teacher will use FB, as well.  
I had a great experience using FB to connect with the families of my students.  I will definitely be using it again this school year.