I’ve got to admit, I’ve had mixed success with getting parents involved in helping to maintain class share sites . But, those experiences have led me to a couple of lessons I thought I’d share about how to get parents involved successfully.
- Explain it to them. For most, this will be the first time they’ve seen a share site, and to many it may not be clear what it’s good for and how it works. If you have the opportunity to demo the share site with parents during back to school night or some other gathering, do it so they become familiar with what it is and what you expect them to do with it. Also, make sure you answer any questions they have, particularly around privacy. If they are comfortable and you can remove the password protection then it will be all that more accessible to users as you begin to use it.
- Wow them with it! You’ve explained it to them, but early on make sure they find it useful by using the calendar function to remind them of a class party or project deadline, uploading photos of a recent class activity for all to enjoy, or sending a class update by posting news as a journal entry. If your teacher can also use it to update parents with a weekly class update, that will add to its usefulness in the eyes of parents.
- Ask them to contribute. Many parents may assume you’ve got it all under control and that their contribution is not needed. If you know certain parents will be in the class during a special activity or chaperoning a field trip, ask them to bring their camera and then upload pictures they capture to the site. If another parent is in charge of a fundraising event or volunteers with the class each week in a certain way, encourage them to use the site to share more about their experiences.
- Thank contributors. I do that primarily by making things with the photos they’ve shared to the site (or that I’ve taken of that parents child). I use our collage greeting cards  and direct mail thank yous to many parents at their homes. I’ve also created photo books  that I’ve given to the teacher and posted back to the share site.
I would love to hear how you’ve been successful at getting parents involved in your classroom websites, or what other functionality you’d like to see to make it even more helpful to classrooms. Share your thoughts below.