If you are a tech savvy teacher (or you pretend to be) there are a lot of ways to connect with parents:
Remind101 is a service designed with teachers in mind. It essentially lets parents sign up for their student's class. From them on when you want to send a reminder, "Students will be reading at a nearby preschool next week! See if your child wants to practice their book with you."
It's free! No need to wait for your tax refund.
It respects privacy: your number is never shown to any parents and their numbers aren't revealed to you.
It's easy! It walks you through step by step.
It is only available in the US and Canada... so that leaves me out of this loop.
If you use a site to record grades, or monitor behavior (Engrade, ClassDojo, Blackboard) they usually have a way for parents to log in and access the site.
ClassDojo is also passive, however it also lets you send your reports to the parents. For example, if you are reacting to a particularly good day with a trouble student you can send the report to a parent so they can praise their child as well!
These programs are great because if you are already using them, it doesn't require much more effort to allow the parents access. It also makes your class a lot more visible. Students can't claim they don't know why they are failing, or that the teacher doesn't like them. Their actions and grades are all very transparent.
You can create a class website, blog or twitter too! These take a bit more effort as you have to maintain them, but I find they are great for students who lose papers or need reminders. I love using Twitter. It is fast, easy and most of my students are addicted so it works well.
It is also nice for those less tech savvy teachers because it really doesn't require that much know-how to make a twitter account and get started.
No computer access?
If you simply cannot access technology (or you don't think your students' parents can) you can still connect with your students' parents in others ways:
I have talked about how I send a letter home the first week; this way, parents know what I expect and how to reach me.
My mother always sent out a monthly (or was it weekly) newsletter to her students.
My school had a weekly "Family Envelope" with reminders of school events, class assignments and other must know things. Parents would sign whatever was inside the envelope and return it to the school with the student. Sometimes they includes little "password questions" randomly. If a parent spotted it, they would answer the question and send in the answer. This would put their student in a drawing for free homework passes, free dress days, etc.
What about you? How do you keep in touch with parents? Does it work? What would your ideal system be? I'd love to hear form you in the comments, or on Twitter.