Lincoln Teachers Use TalkingPoints to Connect with Families

Lincoln Elementary School teacher, Mary Cook, shows TalkingPoints on her cell phone.

“TalkingPoints is a great tool to talk directly to families, as a friend and partner, about their children, rather than ‘like a teacher,” said Lincoln Elementary School second grade teacher, Mary Cook. “I try to be as friendly as possible even if I have a tough situation I need to discuss. But, I can also reach out in so many little ways. I can send a photo of their child doing an activity in class, homework assignments, or just checking in to be sure everyone is okay. It gives families the opportunity to be partners in their child’s education and allows them to feel like they can better understand what their kids are doing in school for six hours a day.”

Mrs. Cook was talking about TalkingPoints, a multilingual technology platform that connects and empowers teachers and families. TalkingPoints offers two-way enhanced translations. This unique approach eliminates barriers including language, time, mindsets, and capacity to foster strong family engagement in development of students’ academic success. Families can use text messaging or download the separate TalkingPoints app to communicate with their children’s teachers for free. No smartphones, computers, or Wi-Fi is required; for families, getting started is as simple as texting. TalkingPoints also features like “help me understand” human-reviewed translation and videos with translated captions to support understandable, accessible communication. All JPS schools use TalkingPoints to engage parents in numerous languages.

Studies have shown that family engagement is two times as effective in predicting a student’s success than the family’s socioeconomic status. Decades of research show family engagement directly impacts student outcomes, including: attendance, behavior, course completion, socio-emotional development, grades and test scores and graduation rates.

Talking Points makes communication understandable, accessible, and equitable, building relationships between families and schools in under-resourced, multilingual communities with the greatest need for support.

“Not only can I send messages to parents for things like checking in when a student is sick to encourage attendance, parents can check in with me too,” said Lincoln UPK teacher Betsy Homan. “It helps build a classroom community where everyone feels like they are a partner and working towards the same goals – to give our children the best education possible. It’s a great tool for schools to enhance communication.”


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