Cross Post: Is it time to put school newsletters in the bin? #coetail


Downtown trash can, 1936

Image by Seattle Municipal Archives used under a creative commons licence

Every second week a mixture of panic and dread fills Tuesday morning as I face the inevitable scramble to write the fortnightly newsletter for our year.

Digital communication is highly personalised, frequent and instantaneous. In contrast newsletters are mass-produced, occasional and often report on events held weeks after the event. That’s a life time ago in social media terms.

Last week my co-teacher accompanied a group of kids from school to Kuala Lumpur to participate in a competition. During the trip he made a What’s App group and posted regular updates and photos to the groups. One of the parents messaged my co-teacher to say how much he appreciated seeing words like ‘boarding’ and ‘landed’ being sent directly to his phone during the trip. The updates probably took just 30 seconds but it gave the parents an extra level of reassurance when they send their children on school trips involving overnight stays and passports.

This is a far more effective use of teacher time and communication than the fortnightly newsletter.

There are so many other ways to connect with parents.

  • Classroom blogs
  • A youtube account with examples of student learning and student-produced newsletters.
  • Twitter – 140 characters with opportunities for photos and pictures
  • Google+
  • Facebook group – most parents now have FaceBook groups
  • Photo sharing through instagram/flickr with questions for parents to ask their kids about what is going on during the day
  • Use services like If This Then That to automate across social media channels or  Storify to curate for those who need those good old updates.

The communication becomes more personalised and relevant. It is multimedia. There are more opportunities for interaction. Most importantly the content becomes shareable with other members of the students extended family. Instead of being told about learning parents can participate in the learning.

None of this is new technology.

But it does require thinking about how technology isn’t just about replacing what we’ve always done but making us more effective at meeting the needs of parents, teachers and the kids.

from Teaching the Teacher

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: