Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bringing Parents into the Learning Process #SAVMP

I must admit that I've been thinking about this post since I first read the prompt.  Now, almost two weeks later, I am still struggling with my response.  It's not that I don't try to speak with our parents about the great things that go on in our school, it's just that I don't know how many of our parents really know what is going on.  I feel that most of my communication with parents falls into two categories- reactionary and sharing.

The reactionary communication almost always centers around behavioral expectations.  I do my best to communicate with parents about their child's behavior but it seems that these conversations always occur after some sort of negative behavioral issue.  I call parents or meet with them in person and almost always have the child involved in these conversations.  Most often when I call a parent, they think I'm calling about something bad that has happened (the dreaded call from the principal) so I also try to call when I have noticed a positive change in behavior to keep parents informed.  These calls are celebrations and often leave the parents, the student, and me laughing about the "trick" I have played on them.

I do my best to share with our parents, but it sure feels one way.  I use smore.com to communicate with our parents in a weekly email.  Here is my most recent example.  The parents have told me that they like this format as I've been able to include pictures of our students and staff in action.  I also have a school twitter account (@mertonint) which is linked to our school webpage as well as my personal webpage.  I include pictures and updates as well as posting articles that I think will be helpful to our parents.  One other method I communicate with parents is through school board updates (latest example here) and my monthly Thematic Wednesday assemblies (latest example here).  Although I share something on twitter almost daily and provide weekly communications, the one way feel of this communication leaves me less than happy about how I let parents know about what's going on in our school.  The parents know that I have an open door policy and welcome them to come in to speak whenever our schedules allow, but it isn't often that parents stop in to see me.

So, nearly two weeks after reading the prompt about involving parents in the learning process, I am looking for more ways to have two way communication with parents.  What do you do to provide more opportunities for this communication to occur?