Monday, November 26, 2012

Sending Home Good News: Postagram

Like many schools, my district encourages us to let parents know when students are doing a great job. As a junior high librarian, it can be difficult to make these connections with parents - in the past, I haven't had reasons to call home with good OR bad news. I see students in short, two week chunks of time as they complete projects, and then when they're done with their projects, I have only casual, informal interactions with them. I'm not assigning grades, and they don't stick around long enough in the classroom to become discipline problems, so bad news phone calls to parents are never a necessity.

I would, though, like to make an effort to let parents know when their child does something fantastic, even if I only get to know that student during a two-week project.  Although I haven't made an effort to do so in the past, it's great publicity for the library and way to build a base of parent advocates.

I just needed a way to share the good news with parents. I could make a phone call, but I'm not super comfortable talking on the phone, so I searched for an alternative strategy. Here was my criteria for a communication medium:

  • Fast
  • Easy
  • Affordable
  • Visual
  • Fridge-worthy
I ended up selecting an app called Postagram. Postagram allows you to send a picture postcard through the US postal service to any address for $1.00. The card features a photograph and a 180 character message. The photograph is perforated and can be punched out to display (perfect for hanging on the fridge). 

Above: A Postagram card - your custom photo goes in the white square. Image source.  
Postagram allows me to take a photograph of the child using my iPhone, and then add a short, personalized message about the student to the card. I type in the parents' mailing address, and a week later, it shows up in their mailbox. For me, the $1.00 cost to send a card is totally worth the convenience and customization available through Postagram. Before my maternity leave started, my goal was one postcard a week. It was relatively easy to stick to, and I've gotten some really positive feedback from parents. 

I originally struggled with what to send home as "good news," but I've found that it's easy to identify these kinds of students, even if I don't get know them extremely well during the course of a two-week project:
  • Students who are especially kind or supportive to other group members
  • Students who manage to focus and buckle down, even though they're typically easily distracted
  • Students who ask great questions
  • Students who go above and beyond the project goals
  • Students who persevere and maintain a positive attitude even when the going gets rough
Do you have any suggestions for sending home good news? What medium do you use?

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