The last quarter of every school year is such a strange balancing act. With one foot, we are finishing things up- making sure we have covered the standards for the year, prepping for state testing, planning end of the year activities and more. On the other foot, we are preparing for the upcoming year and trying to take lessons learned forward into the new school year,  It can seem like a lot as we balance both of these priorities, but it is extremely important. 

One of the ways that I have been balancing this has been reflecting on my impact on family engagement at my school. This year, it was the area that I chose to focus on for my Personal Learning Plan. So as I reflect and plan forward, I am doing a self audit on how I have grown in this area.

Reviewing what are the ABCs of Transforming Learning are-

Two weeks ago, I shared a blog post called  P = Push Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone. Just like my daughter and I needed to push ourselves out of our comfort zone this past week, so do we as educators. Yes, this can sound scary, but it doesn't have to be. Two weeks ago, we focused on some ways that you could choose that perfect next step to push yourself. Maybe it was just the nudge you or I needed,

This week, we will focus on Q = Question and Analyze How You Communicate with Families.  As we begin the last quarter of the school year, this is a great time to consider and reflect on practices that your school or classroom community uses to connect and communicate with families. It helps us see what we should adopt, adapt and abandon when it comes to communicating with our families.

ABCs of Transforming Learning graphic

Q = Question and Analyze How You Communicate with Families

It wasn't until last summer when I attended my district's FCPS Onward conference that I realized the impact that I could have as a tech coach on family engagement. I know that probably sounds silly, but in all honesty, it's true. During a lunchtime panel, SBTS (School Based Technology Specialists) and Family liaisons shared how they collaborated together to engage and connect with families. This ignited a fire within me to see how I could collaborate with my new Family Liaison, Mili Santiago. This collaboration has without a doubt made me a better educator and a better person. We push each other to be our best and that benefits our school community too. Want to read more about that collaboration, check out my 3/26/2023 post.

How do you communicate with families?

Before asking you to answer that question, I thought it was important to answer for myself. When I think about my communication with families, I think of it in 2 ways - Before Twitter (BT) and After Twitter (AT). During my BT time, I had really good intentions and wanted to offer my families a glimpse into our classroom. I wanted to give them what I wanted as a parent myself.  Now in my AT time, I have realized that when you know better, you do better. I realized that it wasn't about what I thought families needed, but about really listening. So many educators have helped me to grow in this area, but I would be remiss if I didn't especially acknowledge and thank Carly Spina and Andrea Bittner for their wisdom and guidance.

Before Twitter Communication: Class Website

Before we had one to one classrooms,  I communicated with my families through a class website. The platform for that website took many different forms- some years, I hosted a domain; while other years, I used tools like Luna and Weebly to create a class website.  I used this website to post assignments and announcements. But my favorite part of the website was sharing our class blog daily as we reflected on each day together. It was a great way to bridge the gap between home and school and as a parent myself, I wanted to make sure that my students shared what we were up to in class. 

After Twitter Communication: Feeds, Hashtags and More

In 2017, I joined Twitter as part of my new school at the time.  When I joined Twitter, I had no idea the impact it would make on me as an educator and on my students. I formed a class Twitter account and started sharing what was going on in my fifth grade classroom more. While posting, I would tag my school and its hashtag. Families started following our class and could see right on time updates. It was such a great way to tell our classroom's story. As an added benefit, I noticed how Twitter connected me to other classrooms both inside and outside the building. 

When I became a tech coach in 2018, I was so excited to share how Twitter could empower communication with families. In the time I was at that school, our Twitter use exploded as my colleagues saw the value of using this medium linking our tweets with our school's hashtag. I also became the school's webmaster and began to learn more about how I could use a website to communicate to our school community.

After Twitter- An Accessibility Check

This past year, I have been immersed in my ISTE Certification journey. ISTE (International Society of Technology in Education) has a rigorous Certified Educator program that I began in the fall of 2022. One of the pivotal aspects of this program for me was revisiting UDL or Universal Design for Learning. As I revisited these principles, it made me question and analyze how I shared information and communicated in many contexts. One of those contexts was family communication. Here are some of the questions I asked myself:

How can Tech Tools Facilitate Communication?

Technology has come a long way from that clunky website that I created in the late 1990s.  Like Twitter, it offers us innovative ways to communicate with our families with new ideas popping up every day.  Writing this list, I realize that as soon as I publish it, something new may pop up. But I can always edit my website, right?

Talking Points

This past year, my school district purchased a subscription to this amazing program, but you can absolutely use this program for free. Our subscription integrates Talking Points with our student information system (SIS). Using Talking Points has been a  great way to communicate with families. Families can receive messages as texts or through the app. These messages are delivered in the families' preferred language for communication and allow families to respond back to the school for questions,clarification, or a quick thank you.

Using Video

This year, we have been using video to increase engagement in our school communication. Each week, my principal records a video (Weekly Connection) using Flip. This enables her to have captions available when she uploads it to YouTube. When families watch, they can edit the language of the captions if needed. I personally also love this because it enables me to listen to this message rather than read it each Friday


It is no secret that I am a huge Canva fan. I love how it allows you to create visually appealing graphics, infographics and more.But did you know that Canva can translate any PDF that you upload? My family liaison tried this out for our upcoming May event and we were thrilled by the results. Also consider how you can use Canva to create infographics that use more images than text . This tool is always one of my favorites!

How will you question and analyze how you communicate with families?

Think about what I shared and consider doing your own audit. What can you adapt, adopt, or abandon? Maybe you consider doing an accessibility check or try a new tech tool.  The options are endless. Look I even experimented this week to provide increased accessibility and choice with this blog post. Let me know what you think of this. Communicating with families is a work in progress and essential as we work to amplify student learning and engagement.