Jack-o’-lantern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It’s October, and you know what that means: pumpkins on every porch; that brisk feeling of fall in the air; and, for many, Parent Teacher Conferences. This article, on edweek.com, offers some very important suggestions and advice for conducting effective parent-teacher conferences at schools. I recommend for both parents and teacher to take a look and see if there’s anything they can change in the way they take part in or conduct these conferences.
Does the article provide good advice to follow? Is there anything you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments!
Why iPad (and tablets in general) will succeed (Photo credit: ticoneva)
With all the emphasis on integrating technology into schools, it can be difficult to figure out how to do so in a meaningful, cost-effective way. Luckily, here are three ways that schools can take advantage of all the new technologies around them:
1. Engage Kids: In numerous blogs and videos, the increasing use of technology to promote hands-on learning in the classroom has produced amazing results. New websites, classroom equipment, and more, allow students to learn real-world skills while still being guided by their teachers. Whether starting Facebook pages for the class pets or publishing creative writing assignments on a class blog, the opportunities that technology presents are endless. It’s something that more and more schools are beginning to institute- a new way of engaging kids, with great results for all.
2. Engage Parents: Just as engaging kids in the classroom is often one of the more difficult of a teacher’s job, finding ways to communicate and engage with parents is often the one area that schools find hardest to improve. Though several studies have proven that parental engagement in schools is one of the most invaluable influences on child success, it can be nearly impossible to stay connected with parents who are busy and constantly on the go. Various services like text messaging and mobile apps allow schools to stay in contact with parents not only through their computers, but through their cellphones- the device people are shown to be using more and more often in daily life.
3. Streamline Organization: With so many other options available, it’s surprising that so many schools continue to use paper to keep track of important files and communications. Though it can be easy to use and access, paper communications and files can also be messy, time consuming, and difficult to organize. New software and apps allow teachers and school administrators to get organized in new ways, so that schools can become more efficient. Online and cellphone-accessible calendars and messaging systems can help schools coordinate fundraisers, arrange parent-teacher conferences, and much more.
Of course, this is only a short list of ways that schools can use technology-what others do you think should be included? What’s been your experience with technology in schools?
Schoolbus Heaven (Photo credit: Kevin Labianco)
Here’s a great article that covers some of the highlights from the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher that came out earlier in the year.
Here’s my take:
- The article says that parental engagement has been steadily increasing since 1988. Though this is good news, it would be nice if we were given more specific statistics about the change in parental engagement in schools. How much of a role have the changing roles of technology played in this transition?
- It would be nice to see more data about which kinds of parental engagement have been increasing. The article mentions “parents visiting schools” and students talking with parents about schools, but what about PTA meetings, Parent-teacher conferences, and fundraiser volunteering?
- It’s important to remember that parental engagement in schools helps both students and teachers achieve success. One point the article made: teachers are more likely to enjoy their place of work if the parents there make sure to stay engaged in school events.
Do you think parents are more engaged now than they were 20 years ago? How can we improve engagement in schools? Let us know in the comments!
Communication is often key for schools looking to increase student success and build better relationships with parents. Though most schools feel that they can address all their communications needs only by creating and updating a website, many have found that solely relying on websites leaves much to be desired. Here’s why:
- Websites are static. Across the nation, extreme budget cuts are forcing school administrators, teachers, and officials to make tough decisions about issues such as cutting programs, reducing salaries, and expanding class sizes. Not only can most schools not afford to create a professionally-designed website, but the whole issue of parent-school communication often gets pushed to the back burner. Websites’ static content and hard-to-navigate pages make it both difficult and burdensome for parents and students to find the information they need, on time.
- Parents are busy. This generation of parents is said to be the busiest one yet, and schools need to make sure that they can stay in contact with these parents who are constantly on the go. When schools need a quick way to send information to parents, they don’t usually rely on their websites to get the word out- and for good reason. Now that everyone is busy, schools need to make sure that all parents-whether they’re working two jobs or one, traveling or commuting-have easy access to the information they need.
- Smartphones usage is increasing. More and more people are using their smartphones and smartphone apps to accomplish daily tasks. According to Business Insider, web use conducted on mobile devices as opposed to on computers has been climbing steadily since 2009, and shows no sign of stopping any time soon. It’s evident that schools trying to modernize and consolidate their communications systems shouldn’t ignore the prospect of mobile solutions.
What do you think? Is it smarter for schools to focus on communicating with smartphone-based parents? Are school websites destined to be a thing of the past?Let us know in the comments!
Image via CrunchBase
Earlier, we talked about why schools shouldn’t use Facebook to communicate with parents. Today, we’re focusing on the benefits for schools that come with using Facebook and Twitter to communicate with parents.
- Since so many parents already use Facebook and Twitter- for keeping up with old friends, staying informed about the latest news, or stalking their favorite celebrities-schools already have a digital audience that they can rely on. Most parents are already familiar with the website, and check their pages often. Facebook makes it easy for schools to stay in touch with parents, and vice versa.
- It’s tempting to ignore the costs that schools incur through paper communications such as flyers, but they still matter, especially to struggling small and mid-sized schools. Replacing paper communication with free social media websites would allow schools to save money, which they could use towards other purposes.
- Facebook updates are quick to send out and easy to post; they allow administrators to post updates in many different formats (videos, pictures, links) and make it easy for parents to respond. They can be engaging in a way that papers cannot, and they help administrators save valuable time.
- Facebook pages can create a “digital community” around your school by providing a positive space for parents and administrators to interact with one another. Parents can post questions directly to a school’s page and take advantage of the social nature of the website by collaborating and getting in touch with other parents.
Given our posts about both the pros and cons of using Facebook (and other social media sites) for parent-school communication, what do you think? Can social media truly replace paper communication? Could a real school rely on a “digital community”?
KIDS DRAW THE DARNDEST THINGS (Photo credit: marc falardeau)
PTA’s, or parent-teacher associations, have been around since the late 1800’s, and members are just as passionate now as they were so many years ago. They’re often one of the most available resources for parents who want to get more involved in their school. This article by Anne Stafford provides a great commentary on Parental Engagement from a parent’s perspective; it also shows the ways in which PTA’s can help teachers and parents cooperate and communicate.
Here’s our summary of why PTA’s and schools are great when they work together:
- When like-minded parents meet together for the sole purpose of improving and helping their school, good things can happen. Parents can more easily communicate with schools, and vice versa.
- Parent volunteers are often the backbones of school-run fundraisers. It only makes sense that they should be able to have a voice in the ways in which school fundraisers are set up and run.
- Parents and teachers can accomplish great things when they work together. They can help improve curricula, raise money, develop school-wide programs to help the underprivileged- the list goes on and on!
- PTA’s provide an effective platform through which parents and schools can work together to endure the best possible education and school environment for students.
Have anything to add about Parental Engagement in PTAs? Tell us in the comments!
Dice five (Photo credit: @Doug88888)
We often talk about Parental Engagement on this blog: about how to increase it, why it’s important, and what it means for our children. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the discussions and the terms without really paying attention to what they mean.
It’s important for teachers and administrators to remember that Parental Engagement isn’t just an idea or a phrase, but a process that involves two people, both of whom want the best for their children or students. A lot of the time, parents and teachers can find themselves at odds with each other due to a lack of communication, different goals and ideas, and much more. Though it can be difficult, the results we see when both parties are passionate and understanding of each other really does serve as a reminder that “Parental Engagement” is so much more than a phrase: it is a partnership.