Communication from teachers to both students and parents has always been important in K-12 education. But in an age of distance learning and technology-driven hybrid learning, clear and consistent communication — about grades, assessments, learning goals, and a host of other things about school — may be more important than ever.
Justin Hall, who teaches mathematics at Rancho Cucamonga Middle School, understands this need all too well. Hall is a 16-year-old veteran middle school teacher, a huge proponent of increasing access to information for all education stakeholders. He is happy to share his favorite tool to make classroom communication more efficient and effective.
EdSurge: Has the pandemic changed the nature of communication between parents and teachers?
lounge: Communication between parents and teachers has always been important, and that hasn’t changed during the pandemic. But since our site has been using Jupiter and its communication tools for years, our communication during distance learning has been seamless. Educators, as well as parents, are very familiar with Jupiter’s communication tools. Both groups use these tools effectively.
During the months of distance learning, we held meetings with parents via Zoom. We find that works really well for all parties. Since parents have real-time access through Jupiter to see how students are performing, formal parent meetings have become less important in many ways.
Why is seamless communication—between parents, teachers, and students—important?
We all need to use our time as wisely as possible. If we communicate effectively and regularly, we can achieve this goal. If we maximize the communication tools we have, we can reduce miscommunication. Both teachers and parents appreciate how seamless communication can keep everyone informed and on the same page.
However, this is not only about communication between the teacher and parents. This is about the students too. If students have questions or need support after hours, we can now take care of that. Every week, I have at least five students calling me after class to ask about our work that week. This type of connection helps students feel more connected and supported.
It assists in the exchange of personal and relevant information between all parties. It is about meeting everyone’s needs. Many things are time sensitive, and these tools make us more efficient.
If a parent logs into Jupiter, they have access to grades and all homework and assignments. Through Jupiter, parents can communicate with all the teachers of their students with one message. This is much faster than finding each teacher’s email.
I have noticed an increase in the amount of communication between teachers and their students, as well as between parents of students. I’ve also seen a huge shift away from parents leaving voicemails. The general practice in our school is that we communicate through Jupiter. Parents can call me, but they don’t need that often.
With all the messaging capabilities, plus real-time information that parents can access, they feel more informed and up-to-date. Increased communication and information exchange contributed to more positive relationships between teachers, their students, and parents.
In what ways does the platform support feedback for students?
Each assignment gives you feedback options. You can put comments on entire tasks. Depending on the assignment, you can also make comments on each question. Students can log in and see very specific and timely feedback. When we use a rubric, we don’t just specify a score or a score. Instead, we refer to a rubric to show students exactly how they met or did not meet one of the criteria. This helps us communicate something important to students other than a simple result.
This type of feedback informs students in a way that is more relevant to mastery, formative assessment, and growth. We don’t have to spend valuable learning time giving or explaining feedback. Ultimately, it’s more personalized, helps things run smoothly and allows for constant thinking.
There are also built-in modes. For example, we have the ability to do cash. Teachers can post a post, and students can comment on the post. It can be set so that students have to give a critique or reply. There are student and student modes that allow peer feedback. Teachers can turn the modes on and off as needed.
How does Jupiter compare to other LMS or SIS platforms you’ve used?
Jupiter, in my estimation, is superior in many ways. The LMS and gradebook are the best I’ve used. The platform provides teachers with a great degree of control and flexibility. There are very few things I could change or improve. The connectivity features were a great addition. It has great teacher tools. The task builder is very useful. Things like the seat chart builder are also useful for teachers.
Jupiter thought the teachers a lot in their design. However, it is also easy to use for students and parents. I don’t know of another instrument as flexible as Jupiter.