Using Technology to Build Relationships with Families Benefits You, Your Students, and Their Families
Communicating with our students’ families is a core responsibility of all educators. Not only can positive open communication with students’ families make our jobs in the classroom easier, but it can also lead to higher student achievement, improved behavior, decreased drop-out rates, regular attendance, and more positive attitudes about school.
With the school year in full swing, now is the perfect time to begin building rapport with your students’ families.
In a recent webinar, Dr. Patricia Wright, Rethink‘s VP of Professional Services, shared some practical ways that educators can better leverage technology to build positive and effective relationships with student families.
5 Creative ideas for using technology to connect with families
- Social Networks can be a great way to connect with other professionals and experts. Social Networks provide unique opportunities for families, care providers, and educators to share peer support and consult professionals.
One great network for families and care providers of children with autism is called My Autism Team. It’s a great place for families to gain emotional support and practical advice. If you are a teacher of a child with autism, it’s a perfect resource to recommend to parents.
When deciding whether to join a social network, the three main questions you will want to ask yourself are:
- Is it helpful?
- Is it mostly positive/supportive rather than just a place to vent?
- And is there a high degree of interaction?
- Simple Communication can include everything from email and text messaging to Skype and live video interaction.
A study conducted in 2013 indicated that home visiting accompanied by text messages and phone calls increased parenting strategies and child engagement and reduced challenging behavior over home visits alone. This small piece of research points to the fact that supporting whatever efforts you are making with a child with simple text messages and phone calls can have a meaningful impact on parenting and on a child’s learning.
For educators, one of the primary barriers to communicating with parents and families is time. Research from 2005 indicates that using email can be an effective and time-saving tactic for communicating with families. Don’t underestimate the power of what is now an obvious and ubiquitous tool of communication.
- Video Learning is supported by years of research touting its effectiveness in everything from helping families improve the social communication skills of their children with ASD, increased knowledge of ABA for parents and improved implementation of ABA with their children, and increased parent learning and improved child behaviors.
Rethink provides an ABA Training Center featuring 11 video-based ABA modules reviewing the principals of ABA as well as over 1,500 video-based exercises modeling how to apply these principals in practice. These can be a valuable tool for providing ABA training to families and professionals and for ensuring consistency between home and school
- Video Upload/Feedback can involve asynchronous video review in which families parents can film themselves working a child and review with one another later.
One tool powerful tool you can check out is called Behavior Capture. Not only does Behavior Capture allow you to record your interactions with your child/student, but it also allows you to pin certain segments of the video so you can quickly and easily go back and review with a child’s family or teacher later.
- Web Access to Child Progress can help ensure that families and educators are on the same page with how a child is performing. The great thing about graphic analysis is that graphs are universally understood. Using the universal language of a graph can be extremely valuable when working with parents and care providers who do no share a primary language. This kind of positive communication can also increase a family member’s confidence in interacting with their child’s school or teacher.
In addition to Rethink’s video-based ABA curriculum, Rethink also provides sophisticated tools for data collection with automated graphs and reports that can easily be printed or emailed for sharing with parents or care providers.
Communication and engagement with families is one of the core constructs of special education. IDEA is very clear that parents are pivotal to a child’s success at school. As you begin the new school year, consider one or two small ways that you can better utilize technology to engage your students’ families!
Click the button below to view Dr. Wright’s full webinar or check out the slides below: