How To Easily Automate Parent Notifications With Google Classroom

It is no surprise that Google Classroom is a popular choice for teachers. Yet, it always felt incomplete. There were a lot of features missing that exist in other LMSs. For that reason, I have been a long time critic of the barebones Classroom. Yet, Google is continually updating the platform and in August 2016 added a key feature that had been missing for a long time: Parent notifications (guardians).

Why Are Parent Notifications Such A Big Deal?

A lot of teachers use technology not just to help students but to reduce administrative tasks. Parents often desire updates about their student’s grades/progress to stay informed. They want to know about assignments upcoming and past due for their students. A learning management system (LMS) can help offset the desire for parent contact and the need for teachers to coordinate it all.

Until the update to Google Classroom, all scores were only visible to teachers and students in Google Classroom. There was a complicated work around but it involved Parents needed a login for the school’s domain to get access to the class. Even then, there was no way to allow a parent into your Google Classroom to see their student’s grades without them having access to¬†every student’s grades. Not good.

What Do Google Classroom Parent Notifications Do?

Well…they notify parents. ūüôā Google Classroom will notify parents with email summaries of how their students are doing in the various classes.¬†The frequency of the emails can be set by parents.

What is included in these summaries?

  1. Missing Work
  2. Upcoming Work
  3. Class activity

Parents do not have to log¬†into Classroom to receive the updates. The guardian email doesn‚Äôt show specific student information, work, or grades. There is no¬†way for parents to see the contents or receive the attachments added in a class activity posting – assignment, question, and announcement. However, if it’s an assignment, the teacher could post the entire link of the website in the assignment name,¬†but that would cause problems later on.

Here is a sample of a parent weekly summary:

Google Classroom Parent Report

Courtesy of Google

Can I Limit What Parents See?

Yep! Parents are automatically restricted from seeing your class stream or your actual Google Classroom.

Also, all notifications are turned off by default.

How Do I Manage Parent Notifications?

  1. District admin needs to enable “guardian email summaries” in the admin settings.
  2. Go to your Google Classroom
  3. Click “Guadian Email Notifications”
  4. Click “include this class”

How Can I Invite A Parent?

  1. Go to your Google Classroom
  2. Click “Students”
  3. Next to the student click “Invite Guardian”
  4. Type guardian’s email address into the text box. (there is no way to bulk edit guardian emails. Also, you can add additional parent/guardians)
  5. Click “Invite”

Note: Only one person in your district needs to invite a parent. Once a parent/guardian is connected to the student, they have access to all classes where notifications are turned on.

Students cannot invite their parents on Google Classroom on their own. And currently, there is no way for a teacher, or admin, to easily add parents emails at one time, such in a spreadsheet.

If a parent is asked to enter a class code, the code will not work for it’s not meant for parents to use. It only works for students, teachers, and admins of the school. Instead, you may ask your child’s teacher to invite you on Classroom.

Can I Remove A Parent?

Of course! Be careful though…if you do, you will remove the parent from all notifications from all Google Classrooms at your school.

  1. Go to your Google Classroom
  2. Click “Students”
  3. Next to the Guardian’s name, click “More” and click “Remove Guardian”

What About Emailing Parents Directly?

Yep!

  1. Go to your Google Classroom
  2. Click “Students”
  3. Next to the student, click “More”
  4. Click “Email Guardians” (the “From” would be your school account email)

Can I email all of my student’s guardians?

Sure can! Just like you would email a bunch of people using the BCC field to hide their emails from one another, this works the same way.

  1. Go to your Google Classroom
  2. Click “Students”
  3. Click “Email All Guardians” (all emails are put into the BCC field)

Additional Features Added To Google Classroom

Mobile Annotations

Google in this August update also added the ability of teachers to annotate submitted work on the Classroom mobile app. If you haven’t downloaded the Google Classroom app yet, it is pretty handy but working with documents on it is a little slow. I have a 6″ phone and collaborating or giving feedback on Google Docs is still is easier on my laptop.

Google Forms

Google Forms now lets teachers add images to questions and multiple-choice answers. This would be really handy for math teachers who can just add pictures of equations to quiz questions. (It is insanely complicated to write in math-speak with most edtech tools right now.)

Google Inbox

Thank goodness…¬†Google Inbox is an alternative tool to Gmail. Same email, same email address, different experience. Google Inbox groups emails for you, allows you to clear or respond to email very, very fast, and even suggests responses to emails. It is a productivity-centric email tool. Something blended teachers desperately need. Until now, it was not available for Google Apps teachers.

Final Thoughts

By far, the parent notifications are the biggest improvement to Google Classroom so far this year. Google Classroom isn’t a bad tool. It is just very simple one. While parent notifications are exciting for those teachers using Google Classroom, it is something most LMSs have had for a long while. My hope is that Google Classroom keeps improving so that teacher’s can have one suite of tools to solve all of their needs.

As for me, I am still staying away from using Google Classroom until it feels more complete. A part of me wishes they would just hurry up and build the mega-LMS!

Question: Have you turned on parent notifications yet? What do you think of it? Are you excited? Nervous? How has it worked out? Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below!¬†

 

 

Comments

  1. Victoria

    Even though I invited a parent using a non-gmail account as she requested, each time she accepts the invite it defaults to her Gmail account (which is not the one she wants to use) is there any way to fix this problem?

    1. Charlyn Benalayo

      Hi, Victoria! Does the parent get any specific error message? In the meantime, you can also try to remove and re-invite the parent. Instruct her to open an “Incognito window” (if it doesn’t work, try a different web browser) and log into their email that was invited. Kindly make sure that no other account is logged in when she clicks “Accept”.

  2. Aaron

    My admin said she turned on parent notifications. I don’t see the tab to invite them when I click on the students tab. Is something missing here? Am I in the right spot to see the option?

    1. MJ Linane Post author

      Hey Aaron,

      In that case, she may have turned them on but probably didn’t let teachers invite guardians. Tell her to go her Google Admin console–> Click “Apps” and then click “G Suite and then Classroom”–> Go to “General settings”. –> Click “Guardian access” and then under “Who can manage parents and guardians?”, change to “verified teachers”. Let me know how it works out!

  3. Stephanie

    So how are we as parents supposed to check our children’s homework?

    1. MJ Linane Post author

      Hey Stephanie! You make a good point and as a parent myself, I can sympathize. Basically, the only way to check is to have the teacher send you the details or have your student show you the details of the assignment.

    1. MJ Linane Post author

      Ooo that is tricky! Is that the page it goes to? When does it send you there? Right when you click approve or reject?

  4. craig Ham

    Is there a limit of how many guardians can be listed for a student?

    1. Charlyn Benalayo

      Hi, Craig! As far as I have checked, there’s no limit for the number of guardians per student. You can add as many as you need.

  5. Mike

    Is there a way to email only certain of my classes’ guardians in one email? I don’t want to email all guardians, just certain ones. I see how to email a guardian individually but would like to include several instead. (eg: missing work reminder email to only those guardians whose kids haven’t submitted it) Thanks

    1. Charlyn Benalayo

      Hi, Mike! Yes, you can email selected guardians, however, it’s going to take more work. Just go to your class, then go to the “Students” tab. At the top, you’ll see an option “Email All Guardians”. It will open a separate tab to create a new message. In the BCC portion, it will auto-populate all guardian emails. You can delete the email address of those guardians you don’t want to include as a recipient of your email.

  6. Torey

    If I add a picture as part of an announcement, will the parents see that picture?

    1. MJ Linane Post author

      Hey Torey! No they won’t. All they can see is the announcement/assignment title, description, and date.

  7. David Silver

    Is there a way for parents to receive the attachments you post on classroom.

    Ie: Can they open an assignment posted to classroom?

    1. MJ Linane Post author

      Unfortunately no, there is no way for them to see the contents of an assignment. If it’s a link you could post it in the assignment name but that would run you into all sorts of problems later on.

  8. Valerie

    hello im a parents and this is helpful. So I’m gathering by reading this parents just get notifications and they aren’t directly logging into google classroom proactively to check things correct?

    1. Charlyn Benalayo

      Hi, Valerie! You are right! For the parent notifications, you will only receive email summaries and updates of your child’s performance at school.

  9. Sarita McRae

    I have invited guardians who don’t have gmail. I received an email from one of them that said when they tried to accept they were asked for a code. What code would this be?

    1. MJ Linane Post author

      Hey Sarita! The only code that it could be is the class code (which isn’t for parents). If you check your student list, their email should be next to the student under the email column. If it is, they are all set. If not, I’d sent another email. Let me know what happens and if you need extra support.

  10. AY

    Can parents see grades in Google Classroom?

    1. MJ Linane Post author

      Great question! No they can not. Guardian emails don’t show specific student information, work, or grades.

  11. Heather

    I have 175 students…way too much to type in every email address. Is there not a way for the student side to add a parent? My school mandated use of Classroom. We previously used Edmodo, and I feel that was one major advantage over Classroom-having a parent account option.

    1. MJ Linane Post author

      Hey Heather, unfortunately there is no way to enroll parents in bulk. If one teacher invites a parent, they are automatically enrolled for every class in the entire school. But there is no current way for a teacher, or admin, to easily upload parent emails at one time, such in a spreadsheet.

  12. Sonya Brown

    I’m trying to join a class at my son school with the code his teacher sent home and I’m keep getting invalid code. What do I do from this point?

    1. MJ Linane Post author

      Hey Sonya, so the code is for students, admins, teachers of that school. The code won’t work with anyone who doesn’t have a school email address. In that case, what you will want to do is tell you son’s teacher to invite you under the “Students” tab of classroom. There will be a place to “invite guardian”, and there your son’s teacher can put in your email address for updates.

  13. kathy

    I’m using googl classroom this year. I have turned on the guardian option and have emailed/invited the guardians that gave me their email addresses. I am wondering how the notifications look to them? Will they see what I post as far as assignments? Materials?

    1. MJ Linane Post author

      Hey Kathy! Good question. I updated the post to include a larger image of the report. That report is exactly what parents see. Basically, your announcements and assignments. They can’t directly see your classroom feed. So you and your student’s comments are kept private.

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