In today’s world, would a carrier pigeon do a better job of delivering a school message or a reminder to the busy parent over back packs and websites? Or would the parent be more engaged on a traditional email or text message? Even better, could a school mobile app seal the deal?
It’s a well known fact that timely, actionable and relevant communication is the key to parental loyalty and your school’s success. Your message has less than 9 seconds to make a connection and register with the parent in order to grab their attention and get them to act. This is one of the reasons that over 85 % of newsletters go unopened. Irrespective of how relevant and colorful the content in a newsletter or on an elegantly designed school website, an overwhelming majority of parents will still NOT read it simply because it’s yet another place for them to go to and retrieve information that is not brief, timely, relevant or actionable.
It is not surprising that parental engagement is one of the most challenging issues facing small schools today.
How do you keep your school’s parents engaged and have them respond in a timely manner?
Students at Mililani Middle School (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The research in this report, published by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, seems to point toward a definitive yes.
Researchers from psychologists to education specialists have all shown support for this idea. It certainly makes sense: middle school is a time of change, when students are transitioning from one extreme to another. Increased parental involvement could do wonders for kids by helping them adjust and prepare their study strategies, work expectations, and schedules for the extra work of high school.
Then again, it’s important to keep in mind that middle school and elementary school are no picnic, either. Can we really say that one age level is more important than another? Perhaps the best solution would be to agree that parental engagement is always important, no matter students’ age level.
We’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you agree that middle school is the most important time for parental engagement?
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!
“The Future is Coming!” (Photo courtesy of Scientific American, via blog.modernmechanix.com.)
Though we might not have to worry about flying car pileups, hooligans on hovercrafts, or robot rebellions anytime soon, the world around us is always changing. This is especially true with regards to the education world. A new generation of parents is shaking things up, and schools serving their children need to understand the new direction in which education is headed.
Times are certainly tough for schools (and likely to get tougher), but we believe that the best way to ensure success for the future is to observe the trends shaping the education world today. There are three “Mega-trends” that will almost certainly decide the direction in which education evolves: Social trends, Economic trends, and Technological trends.
1. THE SOciety
The new generation of parents is busy. It’s often difficult for parents to juggle their home and work lives- not to mention those of their children. As parents find it more and more difficult to stay involved despite their hectic work schedules, schools are beginning to notice that they might have to change the ways in which they interact with parents. Long gone are the days when every household had a housewife or PTA mom to handle all the school affairs; now, schools need to provide more flexible methods of communication with Moms and Dads who are busy, mobile, and constantly on the move.
Along these same lines, the advent of certain technological advances in the past decade mean that Gen-Y parents expect information to be readily available and easily accessible wherever they go. For many schools, this means that many of the old rules of school communication no longer apply. They need to find a way to market to these parents, using methods that will appeal to the wireless sentiments of this “iPhone” generation. Sending brightly colored leaflets home with children might not be the best way to connect with parents these days; Instead, schools can achieve better communication by paying attention to parents’ desire for flexible, easily accessible information.
Keep your eyes peeled for Part 2: Economic Trends!