Goal: Engage Parents

Part of The 30 Goals Challenge 2011 and Cycle 7 of The 30 Goals Challenge: Make it Meaningful!

“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.” – Jane D. Hull

Goal– This week find ways to seek ideas from parents to implement. Suggest ideas for others. Find ways to continue the dialogue with parents and listen to them throughout the year.


  • Every school needs a social media plan and guidelines. Check out how other schools use social media to inform parents. Here are two examples:
  • Have a VLE or LMS where students and parents can check grades, homework, see student work, be notified of important notices, and find important information. Discover more about virtual learning environments and learning management systems here.
  • Your virtual learning environment (VLE) should be easy to navigate, user-friendly, able to be translated, make good use of visuals and multimedia, mobile-friendly, protect the information and privacy of users, and provide necessary support and materials (possibly tutorials). Check out my young learner wiki, English Storytime, for ideas.
  • Engage parents by posting polls, recognizing various student news and achievements, posting announcements, sharing a calendar of events, sharing ways parents can contribute or volunteer, and having a way for parents to submit ideas, concerns and suggestions.
  • Parents can contribute to your podcasts, newsletters, blog, or vodcasts.
  • Recommended parent communication tools and apps- Remind, GAFE, Cel.ly, Class Dojo, and Smore. There are other platforms, but these have stood the test of time and are recommended by various teachers worldwide.
  • Google Apps for Education (GAFE) have incredible features for communicating with all parents. Create a form to gain parent information. You can copy and edit a template I started here.
  • Create emails or letters with Google Docs and translate with Google Translate.
  • One Google Doc add-on I use frequently is FormMule. This allows teachers to take the emails from a Google Form or Spreadsheet and send up to 100 emails a day quickly. You create a template and FormMule individualizes each email for each parent. This saves me hours. Find out more here.
  • Host parent workshops. Some suggestions for your workshop. Host with a group of teachers. Have a welcome bag with goodies. Many of the tech tools you use will provide you with bags, stickers, pens, and more. Start off with icebreakers. Let parents play with the tools and apps you will use. Be considerate of the parents’ time by feeding them and providing daycare (like watching a movie in another room with a fellow teacher or playing in a makerspace). Record the event for parents who could not make it. Follow up with parents about any questions or concerns.
  • Get parents to sign your Acceptable Use/ Responsible Use Policy (AUP/RUP). Find examples here.

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Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell), Facebook.com/ShellyTerrell, and on her blog, TeacherRebootCamp.com, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at https://www.slideshare.net/ShellTerrell/presentations


  1. This is great, Shelly! For the past 12 years I have worked as a parent liaison with the Wisconsin Statewide Parent Educator Initiative. The last 10 I have been a coordinator for the project in a very rural area of northern Wisconsin. I facilitate communication between parents and teachers, work with teachers to improve parent engagement as well as do workshops on a variety of topics for both parent groups and school staff. In the years I have been doing this there has been a real change in how schools view parent engagement. Where in the past it had been more focused on activities we are now more aware of the quality of relationships. As Shelly mentioned sometimes when a family is in crisis it is uncomfortable and often confusing to know how to communicate with them. I think the most important thing we need to strive for is to be less judgmental. If we can view each other with compassion it can overcome many barriers and it is always better for students.

  2. Inviting parents to be a part of the learning experience is so valueable. It also creates a great united front for school and home connection. Those relationships are priceless!

  3. […] Long-term- Make it a habit to have continuous communication with parents. With social media and texting, communicating with parents has become easier and faster! Try using social media and technology to help you build a parent community. Facebook, Google Plus, and other social networks help you to do this in a quick, free way! This goal is similar to last year’s goal: Engage Parents. […]

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