18 Comments

  1. Tom Whitford

    Once again you have shed new light on a subject that I think most administrators are trying to tackle (speaking of tackle did you see Clay Mathews vs. the Bears). The importance of the connection between home & school is only understated by the idea of the Larger Community and School connection. We need to be reaching out in as many ways possible and you share some excellent ideas and insights into making that happen. Thanks again for all you do for students, teachers and community George!

  2. J. St. Amand

    As always your post is on the mark in so many ways, I particularly like "don't use web 2.0 technologies in 1.0 ways". As parents we want a connection to the learning and we believe the information available through the online systems will give us want we want, but as you point out there is SO much more potential. Transparency, trust and conversation will allow us to truly contribute to the learning of our kids.

  3. sandywarner

    Once again George you have touched on a topic that is so important today. Technology is so helpful in communicating to parents, especially when everyone's lives are so busy , when both parents are working or find it hard to come into the school for whatever reasons. However it is not always the right tool to use to communicate with parents. Sometimes, as you said, we need to have those face to face conversations and getting those parents in to see what you are doing in your class is more powerful than a picture on a webpage. We also have recently opened our school up to parent forums (see my blog on "Technology and Childhood ~ Part 2" http://sandywarner.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/techn… ) while it is in its infancy I think it is another great way to connect with parents.

  4. This is a timely post as many schools are are on the cusp of determining how to integrate technology and communication with the home. I have to say that, as a parent, I agree with you George. I have experienced various ways of teachers "staying in touch" with and communicating with parents and some are more effective than others.

    The most important statement in your post is to consider parents as partners in learning. I think if that is your starting point, then the way you connect and communicate with parents will naturally be in a way that is open and builds community. If you see parents as an intrusion, or are indifferent, that ultimately shows in your communication style. Hence the adoption of the plug in-get the information-plug out format of communicating. Or the "go to our website" format.

    I think my children have grown the most as learners the years where there has been a back and forth communication between their teachers and I. Email is great, as long as it is open to a dialogue. Teacher's who blog offer an insight into their philosophy and their own learning which not only role models to the students but also allows dialogue. My own children have as yet to have a teacher with a class Facebook page, but this would be a great way to share their learning.

    The more my child and I can communicate with and learn about their teacher the easier it is for me to support the learning that is going on in the classroom. I have had it both ways. Teacher who do not communicate at all and teachers who blog, are on twitter and available by email. By far a more collaborative relationship has formed with the former, and learning for my child has been more integrated and meaningful.

    • Usually, my comments or posts on my own blog (www.drgentile.blogspot.com) are from the superintendent's perspective. Here, instead, I will offer my insight as a parent (not that it is ever possible to completely separate the lenses "profession vs. parent") I will try. School officials, teachers do have the responsibility to communicate and include parents, parents have a responsibility too. As parents, we must be informed and involved. For many of us, working parents, it is nearly impossible to be the involved "room mom" but there are so many other ways to be involved-meaningful involvement-that there simply is not excuse to say "my child's school does not communicate with me". If you find yourself saying this, challenge yourself on the following fronts: ask yourself, do you honestly read- and I mean really read- the information that is sent home? do you take the initiative to read the district's web/social information? do you sit and make time with your child(ren) to go over the school day? ex. homework, but more importantly just listen to what they say beyond the "nothing" when asked what did you learn (or do) in school today? I find that when I do these things, I get a pretty clear picture of my child's school experience. A partnership is a two-way street, and communication is a two-way action, to simply put it all on one or the other is irresponsible. George, this is great information in this post and truly sheds light on how to improve the partnership.Keep up the great work of sparking meaningful connection….

  5. parent

    Hi. I'm a parent.

    I use Facebook and twitter a lot, but don't want to connect to my kid's school or teachers that way. I guard my kid's privacy and hope schools will, too.

    Here's what I really want:
    A list of the books and curricular materials you're using, so that I can get them and follow along;
    You to be bright, kind, knowledgeable in the subjects you teach (well beyond what your students are doing), critical of the curriculum, sensitive to what's going on with your kids, able to differentiate well in the classroom, and imaginative;
    Reasonable responsiveness — if I email you midday, I expect you're busy teaching, but I'd like a reply on non-urgent email within a few days;
    Transparency and an open-door policy — I'd like to know I'm welcome to come sit in and observe, and that questions will be welcome and dealt with honestly and without defensiveness.

    That's it. I don't need for you to throw a parade for me or strike up the social media band, and I don't care about the grades — I can see what my kid's doing, we live in the same house and we converse. I just want an understanding that we are in fact collaborators in getting the kids educated.

  6. Hi George. Great post. A couple of thoughts as both someone who writes about edtech — and as a parent. First on the edtech side: one of our teacher contributors recently offered this column about the tools that he uses: https://www.edsurge.com/n/a-teacher-s-guide-to-co

    As a parent, I'd love to get short updates from teachers from time to time. I have two teenage boys; guess I'm accustomed to communicating in "bursts" (even when we talk in person!) I usually know when my kids have upcoming tests or projects (because I ask them incessantly) — but I'm still grateful when I hear (typically from other parents) about imminent deadlines.

    I'd like to second Carlene's point: when schools & teachers consider parents as partners in learning, there are plenty of ways to connect. And yes, to David's point, it surely it a two-way street.

    Okay, time to check on whether the guys have finished their homework! :)

  7. I'm a former elementary teacher and administrator, now a co-founder of a product I believe in strongly. ParentSquare is a easy-to-use, inexpensive (currently $299/year/school) new platform for home-family communication. It is designed to build parent engagement in learning and school community – and it solves MANY of the problems mentioned in this article and comments. ParentSquare is a private intranet for each school community and includes messaging, calendars, photo and document sharing, volunteer scheduling, and wish lists at the class, grade, and school level. It offers these same organization tools for parent committees, teams, clubs, etc as well as optional fundraising possibilities. Designed for the adults and for whole-school adoption, our schools are loving how it puts many tools in one place and boosts and broadens parent engagement. My favorite message idea? From teachers: Here are 3 questions you can ask your child tonight. Hope you will check it out or email maria.fisk[at]parentsquare.com – I would love to tell you more :) http://www.ParentSquare.com

  8. […] as Partners – Parents are a huge untapped resource and with the way technology is used now, it is much easier to connect parents to the learning in the classroom.  That connection to learning is more likely to lead to student success.  My good friend Patrick […]

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