The teacher-parent relationship has never been more important than it has been throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As many schools switch to distance learning, parents and teachers must work together to ensure that students don’t fall behind.
Frequent, timely communication is key to nurture this partnership, but using email, phone calls and push notifications from apps alone isn’t the best route to take. What is the best way for teachers to communicate with parents? And how can teachers encourage parents to stay engaged and reach out with questions as they arise?
By using texting software that leverages the most effective teacher-parent communication app that’s already installed on every parents’ phone: the text message app.
Below, we break down why teachers should text with parents and how texting software (and its apps) can help teachers best manage those conversations.
Why texting is the ideal teacher-parent communication app for parents
An open line of dialogue with parents requires a communication tool that is conveniently accessible and that parents will want to use consistently. A phone’s default texting app checks both those boxes.
A recent Zipwhip survey found that:
- 77% of people use texting more than other messaging tools on their phone.
- We’re reading texts more often than we do other forms of traditional communication, such as email: On average, consumers have 192 times more unread emails than text messages.
In terms of accessibility, a default texting app is available on every phone. This is a crucial reason why texting is the ideal teacher-parent communication app: parents don’t have to download anything. There’s no barrier to communication because all you need to reach them is their mobile phone number.
Other factors that make texting the best app for parent-teacher communication:
Texting is better for maintaining relationships than other mediums
Texting is personal, it’s naturally high-priority, and it’s how most of us prefer to communicate. It can mirror the natural rhythm of a human conversation, giving parents the option to answer in real time or when they’re able to. The texting app is the best option to nurture a parent-teacher relationship because it offers direct access to one another where other mediums fall short.
- Email is impersonal given that replies can take days, and many of us would rather not deal with our cluttered inboxes to begin with.
- A phone call is great for longer, scheduled conversations with parents, but it’s not the right method for steady contact. Calls can be time-consuming, they’re regularly ignored, and many people don’t like talking on the phone.
- A downloadable messaging app for parent-teacher communication comes with the risk that parents will forget about it. Our phones are already cluttered with apps that we rarely use or don’t use at all. We also give our favorite apps priority on the front page of our phones, so we don’t have to swipe our screen to find them — parents may not give a new app the same treatment.
A text is a powerful notification tool for reminders
Using texting as a notification tool makes it a powerful teacher-parent communication app. Instead of sending announcements or reminders for due dates via email or push notifications, send them over a text.
Ninety-eight percent of texts are read within three minutes of receipt, and if they’re not, they’ll sit at the top of our conversation list waiting until we open our texting app. A text also gives parents a convenient option to reply directly if they have questions.
A text message notification has much more of an impact over an app’s push notification or an email:
- Push notification vs text. Push notifications from parent-teacher communication tools eventually disappear. They might sit on the lock screen for a while, but otherwise, there’s nowhere the notification lives.Push notifications may also have a hard time capturing one’s attention. Parents might just see “You have a new message” versus the message itself from a text notification: “Don’t forget book reports are due tomorrow.” A text notification gives them the information they need without even opening their texting app.
- Email vs text. While email is widely used for reminders, it isn’t the right medium to deliver timely messages. Emails aren’t read right away or get buried underneath other messages sent throughout the day. They can also mistakenly go to a junk folder.
Texting helps bridge the rural broadband gap
Many Americans experience the rural broadband gap, the growing divide between urban and rural communities’ access to high-speed, fixed internet.
Not all families have access to fast, affordable or reliable internet connection, which can cause delays in receiving important messages. And cell towers can be weak or spotty in rural areas, making it difficult to have an uninterrupted phone call with parents.
Communicating over text can make up for inconsistencies when communicating over phone calls or via the internet.
- Text messages don’t rely on fixed broadband access
- If a parent is out of range, a text is stored and then forwarded to them when they regain access to a strong signal
- Text messages use less data for faster transmission
If students live in areas with unreliable internet access (or they’re without internet at all) text message can help keep parents in the know of important announcements.
Why texting software is the best parent communication app for teachers
You now know why the text message is the most effective teacher-parent communication app. So, let’s move on to why texting software is a great option to manage those text conversations.
Texting from your phone on your personal number is not efficient for workload management. The volume of messages can be overwhelming, and it will be difficult to keep personal contacts separate from work. That’s where texting software comes in.
Texting software offers apps for your desktop, mobile phone or via the web that lets teachers use an existing classroom phone number (landline, VoIP or toll-free) to text parents.
Use the same phone number to call or text
By text enabling your classroom phone number, you can keep your personal and work conversations separate.
It also makes more sense for parents to keep track of one phone number to call and text. In our personal lives, we text our friends and family on the same phone number we use to call them. It’s not something we have to think about, we just know to do it. If you’re able teach remotely from your classroom, you can text-enable your classroom phone number. If you’re teaching from home, you can text-enable your landline or VoIP number.
When parents already have your classroom’s phone number saved on their phone, you can make it easy for them to reach you by text-enabling the same line.
Texting software features keep management easier for teachers
Texting software comes with features that aren’t available on our native texting apps.
- Scheduled Messages. Compose a text ahead of time and schedule it to be sent at a later date.
- Templates and Dynamic Fields. Save time by creating text templates for messages that you repeatedly send. Dynamic Fields let you automatically personalize every template.
- Group Messaging. Send a BCC message to groups, perfect for class-wide reminders.
Text from your education platform
If you’re concerned about having another tool to manage while teaching remotely, texting software can easily be integrated into tools you already use every day.
Download a texting browser extension to quickly send messages and manage all conversations right from your browser.
Learn more about texting software and how it transforms a text message into the most efffective teacher-parent communication app by visiting Zipwhip’s Texting for Education page.