Certainly it's gotten better over the years, but I am still a long way from the true partnership in education that I envision. I send the bi-weekly emails and updates as needed, I call parents when there is a concern, I send home assessment information, and occasionally (and not nearly as often as I'd like) I send the "positive email home." Even so, I recognize that these are merely tokens that do little to build authentic relationships. It could be so much better!
This year I decided to be more proactive in reaching my parents during state testing. I held two parent nights, one in person and the other through Google Hangouts. This was my first step to building these connections that I know are so important. The in-person night was a great success, and I know the parents left feeling more comfortable, connected, and informed. We became allies for the students.
Unfortunately, the Google Hangouts was not quite the success I was hoping it to be. To prepare my parents for this event, I had sent them a list of instructions, including a couple of YouTube links, showing how to use Google Hangouts. Six parents registered for it, but I was only able to connect with two. I realized that many of our parents do not have the technology literacy for this type of communication. This made me wonder: What responsibility do we have in educating our families about technology?
|What I pictured - Notice all the participants - all the engagement through the chat window.|
|What it was more like.|
Though I only connected with two parents, the great conversations and transformations in relationships, left me encouraged to try harder. This is not something to give up on!
I have been fortunate to witness amazing high-poverty schools who engage parents through English language and literacy classes. These schools know how important this connection is and they actively work to break down barriers to communication and culture.
Educators often talk about technology in terms of literacy, communication, and culture. Is a technologically illiterate parent much different from a parent who speaks little English? Parents are emailed, newsletters are posted on websites, student projects are digital, and grades can only be accessed digitally. Do you see the similarities?
As schools embrace technology, are they creating a divide between parents and children? Are we destroying the home-school connection or are we enhancing it? I think we are doing both. Certainly there are parents like me, who love and embrace technology, who can engage more fully through digital communication. But what about the others? How do we meet their needs, to ensure they are not left behind?
Sure, we could return to paper, but I don't think that is the answer. I think solutions will be similar to those schools that beat the odds, those high-performing high-poverty schools. Schools that are proactive and successful in building relationships will hold technology courses for parents. Digital summits will become the norms in these schools. Parents will teach parents, and kids will teach teachers.
Do you know of anyone building partnerships through technology? Schools that are teaching parents? Share their stories with us!
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Why Educators Should Listen to Pharrell Recently I heard Pharell summarize my entire educational philosophy in one profound statement. When asked where he went to school, Pharrell replied: The universe is my university.
Easing Parent Anxiety Last year, as our state test approached, my parents' level of anxiety increased tremendously. The closer the date came, the more emails and phone calls I received.
Classroom Management with At-Risk Students The root of the word, “discipline” is “disciple,” meaning, “to teach.” When faced with problem behaviors in the classroom, management strategies should be used rather than punishment.
The Flipped-Then-Re-Flipped Classroom As exciting as flipped classrooms are, the question is always asked, "What about the students who don't have the technology?"
How Not to Use Technology in the Classroom Technology should be used to engage and enhance, not to distract and ignore.
Student Cell Phones: Beat' Em or Join 'Em? When it comes to cell phones in class, though, the issue extends far beyond "beating 'em vs. joining 'em." I truly believe in the transformative powers of technology.