Ask the Experts: An App for Communicating with Parents


Q: What's your recommendation for an app to communicate with parents?

A: Good communication leads to good relationships, and we all strive to have a positive relationship with our students' parents. It's also best to keep your personal and work lives separate, so giving your cell phone number to every parent isn't necessarily the best idea. Remind is one of the most popular teacher-communication apps to solve this problem, since it allows you to send messages privately to individuals and groups, but there are others out there with more features—plus, they're free. Like Remind, Bloomz has parents join and allows you to do private or class messaging. If parents don't sign up, you can still e-mail through the app. Bloomz also has event-scheduling capabilities, so you can use it to set up parent-teacher conferences, organize sign-ups for volunteer activities or request items you need.

Celly (which works through a web portal or an iPhone) has you create your group—called a “cell"—and then connect via e-mail, text or through the app. You can also conduct polls or surveys. Celly can share photos and files from your cloud storage, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, as well. Its standout feature is that you can use it for fundraising, just like any other crowdfunding site, except you don't have to hit your target goal to get the money.

As I've said in the past, advocacy is a big part of any dance educator's job, and one of the best advocates you can have is a parent of your student. I've mentioned using blogs as a way to get parents excited about what you're doing, but these apps work, too, especially when you use them to send photos or videos, so parents can get a peek into your class.

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
Getty Images

After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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