There are a million moving parts when managing a DI team and communication with parents is key to ensuring this process is successful. There are practice schedules, snack schedules, who is hosting the ‘mess house,’ supply runs, transporting kids/materials/sets, etc. As a technology teacher, I rely heavily on technical solutions to these challenges. Here are a few of my favorites, which can be very helpful throughout the DI season.
- Email: Email works well for sending information to parents, but I’ve found that it isn’t nearly as effective for kids (who see it as old tech). I use email heavily early in the year for sign up and team organization purposes and then move to other platforms for team members to communicate amongst themselves. Throughout the year, email remains my go-to for sending critical information to parents.
- Google Calendar: I set up separate Google calendars for each of my teams and push out team information through that interface. The students and their parents can access this information from any device to keep updated on where they need to be, when they need to be there, and what they need to bring. This is both a short term and a long term planning tool.
- Remind: This is a fantastic app for one-way communications between team managers and their groups. It’s as quick as firing off a group text message like, “DI team meeting in Room 408 on Tuesday at 3:00.” Then the app pushes out the message to all of your group’s subscribers and it appears on their devices. This is also a great tool to send snapshots of team meetings to parents/guardians as you can create several types of attachments to send along.
- YouTube/Vimeo: Creating a private channel on either of these platforms allows kids and parents to watch the development of their solution from beginning to end. It’s fun to let students manage the sharing of their practice information. They can take turns in the role of team media director or that can be a job that one person takes charge of from beginning to end.
- School’s EMS (Education Management System): Many schools use Schoology, Schoolwires, or Edmodo to communicate between school and home. These services provide a safe and secure place for students to communicate with each other, for schedules to be shared, and for documents to be posted/shared. One of the significant benefits of using the school’s EMS is that it is already approved for student use and groups are very easy to set up.
- Slack: Slack is a brilliant tool for team collaboration, but it is probably better for non-school affiliated teams than for school teams. The reason for this is that each team creates a private communication ecosystem outside of the school’s purview and schools cannot guarantee supervision in that environment. For teams with the ability to use this tool, it allows for drag-and-drop file sharing, conversations that are distributed into subgroups (such as scriptwriting, building, costumes, and team choice elements), and interfaces seamlessly with other productivity and media apps.
Like your DI families, mine are crazy busy, so my default is to overshare information in the hope that one of the methods lands on their calendars. If you have a digital tool that works well for your team(s) please let me know and I’d be happy to include it in a future blog entry.
About the Author: Ellis Reyes is a middle school math and technology teacher in Mercer Island, Washington. He has been a Destination Imagination Team Manager for six years, focusing on the Scientific, Improv, and Fine Arts Challenges for elementary and middle school teams. What he enjoys the most about DI is that it gives students the opportunity to be messy and loud at school.