4 years ago I discovered the app Seesaw which is a digital portfolio for students but way more. Recently it also added a direct parent communication piece which I absolutely love and I can also post announcements all at once to parents or just to a few by the click of a button. The best thing about the app for me is that the students can upload their own work and comment on it and I can provide feedback. I approve everything before it goes on the site. Parents LOVE it. For me, it does everything that I need a communication app to do. So what’s the issue?
3 years ago our school board got a contract with Edsby. I understand that as a school board it is accessible in many ways for all teachers. There is system information that is on the site that can be accessed from anywhere. There is a platform for staff room chat and places to post things on calendar etc., However I do not find that it is friendly for teachers nor students to use. The mobile app is glitchy and I get frustrated at the stream of conversations that don’t seem to match up. I have been told by our administration that we have to use it to communicate with parents. All but two of my parents have signed up for Seesaw (internet access issues) and only a quarter have signed up for Edsby. I don’t know why exactly, but I can only assume that they don’t find it as friendly to use. I do paper copies for major announcements to ensure that everyone gets those in one way or another. I use Edsby to comply to my school board’s request and I’m doubling my work in the meantime.
When I first began teaching it was a big deal to have a “monthly” newsletter and calendar of events go home to parents. Principals wanted to see copies and approve them before they went home. Now we are in constant communication with parents and we are being told exactly what platform we are supposed to be using in order to do it. There is a huge workload issue in parent communication and it creeps up on us daily. With an increase in high needs students that deal with behavioural or mental health issues teachers are expected to communicate on a daily basis in a communication book with their families. While I understand the need for documentation for myself and for the parents, the expectation is overwhelming. I am fortunate this year that I have my preparation time at the end of the day and I can take the time to communicate with parents. However, I don’t get to use my prep time for lesson preparation. I don’t know what the answer is here. I’m going to continue to use my professional judgement about how I communicate with parents however, hopefully this post will begin a discussion about communication overload. I’m open for suggestions on how others are able to manage!