While class size is an issue for elementary teachers, secondary school teachers sometimes have 150 students or more. And each student has one, two, or more parents or guardians. How can teachers do the important work of building relationships with so many people? If lowering student loads is not a reality for you right now, help is at hand. Lisa Nielsen reminds us that when we embrace tech to end teaching as we know it, we open the doors to relationship-building opportunities. These free tools will help you connect more deeply with students and their parents or guardians.

Connecting with Students

1. Thrively—Allows students to find their talents, interests, and abilities and share their accomplishments. And teachers can use the learning profile to learn more about their students and customize instruction.

2, 3, 4. Edmodo, Google Classroom, and Facebook group—Hosting an online space for students provides positive and safe digital citizenship experiences and helps teachers get to know students better and keep conversations going.

5. Flickr—Create a Flickr album featuring school staff members with short blurbs about their talents and passions and invite students to add their own. Share the slideshow in class so students can learn more about each other.

6. Cel.ly—Improve communication, build relationships, and even conduct polls with this free, secure, and private group texting service that uses a teen’s favorite way to communicate.

Connecting with Parents

7. Twitter Fast Follow—Set up a Twitter account and inform families that they can receive live updates from school without having to sign up or add their phone to a Twitter account.

8. Remind—This safe, one-way, mass text messaging system, created specifically for use in education, is a perfect tool for staying in touch with parents.

9. Facebook page—Set up a class page, have students do the updates, and give parents a window into their child’s classroom.

10. Class Story—Encourage positive student behavior by safely and instantly sharing important updates, amazing moments, and announcements with parents. Parents can show their appreciation with hearts and teachers can see which parents have viewed the update.