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Parent Engagement

Parents-as-Community-Members

A blog post I wrote in the fall was about creating a classroom community with your students. Creating a safe place for respectful discussion to occur, for students to take risks their with education, not "play it safe" for the grades. But what about the others who have also been part of your classroom this year? What about your students' parents? Another blog post I wrote in November addressed these important stakeholders in your classroom or school. I suggested ways to communicate information to parents, http://edtechease.com/index.php/blog/a-team-approach. Have you included them to be partners in their children's education this school year?

This year as I stepped out of working in a school on a day-to-day basis, I thought my interactions and interest in parental concerns would end. I was wrong. Our students are first and foremost someone's children. We can not forget this as we plan lessons, events, & design curriculum. Our students' parents were their first teachers and will remain their guides throughout life. I have seen my own parental role change as my sons reach adulthood. Just this morning, one son texted to ask me a question because he was faced with a new situation and wanted to talk through his decision. Our students also spend most of their young lives with their parents not us, educators. So, let's include them in the classroom community.

I moderated a Twitter Chat for #isedchat last week that focused on Parent Involvement. I was thrilled that a parent was an active participant in the discussion. He suggested we use the term 'Parent Engagement' instead and I thought that was a much better way to conceptualize what I am encouraging here. If we engage parents as co-learners, then they can reinforce topics at home in authentic ways. Point out use of fractions as they cook, note science topics in the news or talk to their children about collaboration they did at their workplaces.

So how do you engage parents to be partners in their children's education? Bring parents into the classroom regularly, both physically and digitally. The parent I mentioned earlier, suggested joint Twitter Chats. Might work well for Middle and High School students and their parents. Administration or teachers survey for topics and hold Twitter Chats, once a month or once a semester. Great way to model positive social media discussions. For elementary families, using programs like Seesaw to showcase photos and videos from classroom lessons. Or even classroom Twitter or Instagram posts gives parents insights into what their children are experiencing in class.

How about inviting parents in for a morning of co-learning? When parents see the way their students learn, and even struggle to learn, then a conversation about supporting and encouraging can begin. School becomes an authentic experience for parents rather than an ideal. Students can take the lead an act as tour guides for the classroom, or teach a lesson to their parents on a digital device. Family Nights are a way to showcase the curriculum or special areas. A Read Aloud Night can provide guidance to families in connecting through literature.

This idea of Parent Engagement may be a great conversation to have at your next faculty meeting or a post - planning. Maybe the best people to ask would be parents. Survey your parents as to how they want to engage with their children's classes. Or ask the students how they want their parents to be involved in their education.

Share how you are engaging parents in your classroom community. Share on Twitter, @edtechease or Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/edtechease/. 

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