I want to thank Richard for his invitation to share some ideas about parent engagement and how to use technology to connect parents to the classroom and support student learning. I am the facilitator for Parent Reaching Out project for the Niagara Catholic District School Board in Welland, Ontario, Canada.
I am also the moderator for the Parents as Partners web cast at www.edtechtalk.com and recently joined the “Live” conversations at Classroom 2.0 as a co-host so I am totally immersed in using Web 2.0 tools. I have shared some of my thoughts and experiences in these two blogs at www.ourschool.ca and www.classroomblogging.com.
Over the past three years, I have been working with parents and schools in a project focused on increasing parent engagement. In the first phase of the project, a video was produced to capture what we saw as a reality. All too often the relationships between teachers and parents are broken. Take a look at the seven minute video. It might be a familiar picture. We are in the third year of the pilot program and at this stage I will be working with teachers to help them build technology into a program developed by the National Network of Partnership Schools called Teachers Involving Parents in School Work.
There has been tremendous discussion about how parents’ negative reactions interfere with the use of tools such as classroom blogs, podcasts and the like. The lack of accurate information fueled by negative media coverage has made all to many administrators hesitant to embrace the read and write era for fear of the repercussions from parents. While many, many good teachers are working to prepare their students for the 21st century, I believe that there is an opportunity that should not be ignored.
The TIPS program offers a vehicle to create experiences that directly involve parents in schoolwork. Parents become active participants in schoolwork that reinforces learning without expecting parents to be teachers. Parents do care about their child’s learning but most just do not know how or what is expected. The task – challenge, if you will – is to use podcasts, classroom blogs etc. to enhance this program. I know that this blog has a great following of excellent educators and I am hoping that you might just take up the torch.
As part of this challenge, Parents as Partners will be hosting an Elluminate session Monday February 23, 2009 at 8:00 PM EST (GMT-5). “Connecting with parents using Facebook – what it means to be a digital parent.” You can find all the details to participate in this post.
Please join us and share your experiences supporting students and parents in the 21st century.
image by Karl Herman on Flickr