Speaking to parent groups is always a pleasure. I truly believe that although there are many fears of technology (especially social media), the access we have to one another is a powerful opportunity to bring parents into our classrooms. Instead of asking, “What did you learn today?”, with the standard response of “nothing”, parents are now saying, “I saw what you posted on your blog at school today…tell me more about that.” A totally different question that helps parents dig deeper into learning with their children, and reinforce what is happening in schools.
I have also talked about “Digital Parent Volunteers” (an idea from Tracey Kracht), which is an opportunity for parents to comment on student blogs when they can’t physically volunteer in classrooms. The best way to help a community to understand the power of social media to create positive opportunities is to have them directly involved in the use of it.
Last night, when I was speaking with a parent group in Sudbury, Ontario, talking about the role of social media in the classroom, I started off with the the following thought:
There are two things that I want you to know moving forward with tonight’s presentation and I am hoping that you agree. We are focused on keeping your children safe while ensuring they have every opportunity in the world to become successful. Are these the two hopes for your children in their experience of school?
Everyone agreed immediately.
Although it seems simple, it is the first time that I had started a parent presentation that way, which set the tone throughout. It not only helped frame the presentation for the parents, but it also helped me lead with this end in mind. What parent would not want those two things?
This will hopefully squash the argument of “well this was what I did in school and I have turned out totally fine.” People know that there are more opportunities in our world today and that some of the opportunities that have existed before are disappearing. My parents wanted the same thing for me as I do for my daughter; every opportunity for her to be successful and happy.
Keeping kids safe while ensuring doors continue to open for them is a simple thought, while a large responsibility. Pretending things don’t exist and closing our minds to possibilities for our children is ensuring that our fears drown out their aspirations. We teach our children to cross the road safely, knowing that there is danger in the task, yet opportunity on the other side. We want them to get safely to that other side. A simple metaphor that may help us move forward together as school communities.