Educators have long known that strengthening relationships with their students’ families is an essential tool in fostering classroom success. In Organizing Schools for Improvement: Lessons from Chicago, the Consortium on Chicago School Research found that elementary schools with strong connections with families were ten times more likely to improve in math and four times more likely to improve in reading than schools that did not have strong connections. Students thrive when their parents or caregivers and teachers partner together. Microsoft provides a variety of solutions to help strengthen educator-family relationships.
Connect with families inside Teams
Microsoft Teams for Education is a powerful platform that can help educators include families in their students’ academic success. A study in the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness found that frequent educator-family communication of sixth and ninth grade students immediately increased student engagement as measured by homework completion rates, on-task behavior, and class participation. Consistent support and guidance at school and home can help students understand expectations and excel in their learning.
One of the key features of Teams for Education is the ability to bring together students, educators, and families to support the student's educational journey. Teams provides a central hub for communication and collaboration and can help foster a sense of partnership and cooperation between families and the school community.
Parent Connection is an app in Teams for Education that helps educators securely connect and directly engage with the families of the students in their classes without leaving the Teams app. After a school’s IT enables the Parent Connection app, educators see a new Parents tab within each class. Then, when they want to start a chat with a family member, they can instantly see the contact information for that caregiver and a button that opens a chat conversation with them.
Families and caregivers receive an invitation via the email on file with School Data Sync so it is always up to date. The message will invite the caregiver to join the Teams chat. If they have yet to use Teams chat, the email will walk them through a series of simple how to get started steps.
Create inclusive communities with all families
School communities consist of many diverse learners and their families, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing as well as English language learners. In both of those instances, it’s likely that families or caregivers may not speak or understand the primary language spoken in the classroom. Communicating with families of diverse backgrounds can present some challenges, but Microsoft solutions can support effective communication and build positive relationships between educators and families.
Microsoft Translator allows educators to capture what they are saying or typing and have it seamlessly translated for families and caregivers. Educators can start a conversation in the Microsoft Translator app and share the conversation code with family members. In turn, parents and caregivers can talk or write back in their preferred language, which gets translated in real-time for the educator. Microsoft Translator can be used remotely or in person. Multiple parents or caregivers can join a conference, and each customize the experience in their own language, breaking down communication barriers and building meaningful connections.
Translator for PowerPoint is a built-in feature in PowerPoint that adds live subtitles to a presentation. This tool can be utilized during family nights, open houses, and conferences allowing each family to access captions in their primary language at the same time. Educators, staff, and families can ask questions, engage with the overall school community, and feel included in the conversation!
Overcoming barriers to school and family engagement
Barriers tend to hinder a family's ability to actively participate in their student's education. Fortunately, Microsoft Teams, the Parent Connection app, and Microsoft Translator app can help overcome these obstacles and make it easy for families to connect. These tools provide asynchronous and accessible opportunities for educators and families to actively and easily communicate with each other about a student's needs. This active engagement sets students and their families up for success while fostering an inclusive community for all.
Explore these resources to learn more about communicating with families.