We know it is imperative that we frequently—and openly—connect with parents, but how do we do it? There’s the monthly edition of the school newsletter, of course, where you may have a column in which you share your musings, updates and reminders—but we’ve never felt like this is communication at its finest.
The problems with print newsletters are clear:
- They are impersonal (parents can’t hear you)
- They aren’t always timely (most newsletters come once a month)
- They cost money to print and mail
- Newsletters often get mixed up in parents’ random junk mail
- Parents can’t respond to newsletters unless they call you
- Parents often cannot access this information on a mobile device
Principal Podcasts: a simple, free and timely way to connect with parents
As an alternative to the newsletter, we’ve started creating two or three minute podcasts, audio recordings that parents receive every Friday in their email box. Our podcasts are conversational: In addition to the usual updates and reminders you might find in a newsletter, we’ve featured short interviews with student athletes, coaches, our thespian students and teachers. Once we’re done, we simply embed the recording onto our Facebook page, website or school blog and email a link to the parents who have requested to receive notifications.
Before app technology, users relied on recording software like Audacity or Garage Band to create podcasts. While these programs will give you more flexibility, you might want to start off by using one of these three apps:
Audio Boo allows you to record up to three minutes of audio—any longer than three minutes would bore listeners anyway—and post it to your own account on the web. You can add titles, tags, geolocation info and a photo to the recording before you upload it to your blog or favorite social networking platform. The app is free.
If you have an iPhone or an iPad and a WordPress website, Mobile Podcaster will work for you. The app costs $2.99 and allows you to record up to 15 minutes of audio.
iPadio is a free app that allows you to record up to 60 minutes of audio and then add titles, descriptions and images. Once you’re finished, select an embed code and simply copy and paste it to your personal blog or favorite social-media site.
If you’re looking for more ways to connect with parents, you might be interested in a few of our other blogs, Retire the school newsletter. Start a school blog, Social networking and education: reaching parents, all of them, and Parent-Community Education Programs Impact Student Achievement.