Recently, parents have been more on my mind more than teachers. This may be because I gave a talk on Parenting in the Digital Age. Then I have seen multiple posts about having effective conversations with parents during conferences as well as on a routine basis. This prompted my own post:
I would like to encourage a more collaborative approach to parents…a team approach. If we put students first (which is how we should always begin), then the only approach is a parent/teacher collaboration.
I often advocate for teachers to do units and lessons in an interdisciplinary way. Life does not present us with science alone to do or math problems to solve without a language component. Life is interdisciplinary. If this is an effective way to teach, then shouldn’t we include those that “man” the home front? If we want students to generalize their learning beyond the classroom then we want parents to know and support this learning at home. But how do we do this. Well here are some tried and true suggestions that bear repeating and maybe a new digital age strategy.
A Friday letter to parents that students write to summarize their week. This can start conversations over the weekend. What about a weekly video newsletter? I know from experience how frustrating it is to work on a newsletter that sits in a backpack unread or even unopened in email. But who can resist a video? Especially with a cute face of a student mixed in. Narrate a photo collage. This only takes a few minutes and can be a wonderful way to show with pictures and words what awesome learning opportunities are occurring in your classroom.
Have you hosted a Visit and View? Parents come with their students to the start of school and the students act as docents and show their parents around. I encourage this during a big project rather than at the end, so the parents can see work in progress. Parents often don’t understand what goes into the finished product. Visit and View can last as long as an hour or as short as 20 minutes. But now parents have a first hand view of what is happening. Try one each semester.
There are great apps such as Seesaw that allow parents a window into your school day. Don’t discount Twitter or an Instagram account. They provide easy snapshots into the learning that is occurring.
A poem I quoted often during back to school programs is Unity by an unknown author:
I dreamt I stood in a studio,
And watched two sculptors there.
The clay they used was a young child’s mind,
And they fashioned it with care.
One was a teacher, the tools he used
Were books, music, and art.
One a parent with a guiding hand
And a gentle loving heart.
Day after day, the teacher toiled,
With a touch that was deft and sure.
While the parent labored by his side,
And polished and smoothed it o’er.
And when at last, their work was done,
They were proud of what they had wrought.
For the things they had molded into the child,
Could neither be sold nor bought.
And each agreed they would have failed
If each had worked alone,
For behind the parent stood the school
And behind the teacher the home.
Parents are our students’ first teachers! And they always remain our students’ teachers. Let’s utilize all our team members to the benefit of the students!
How do you get parents involved and informed? Leave a comment or join the conversation at @edtechease.
Originally posted on Wednesday, 22 November 2017