I have read several posts about what people are doing to reach parents and I definitely feel a bit behind. This has been a continuing issue for my school. Although we have seen improvements, I believe we have a long way to go.
What do we presently do?
- We use daily agendas. Student’s write important messages about what they have done or homework they may have to complete. It’s a place to communicate back and forth with parents.
- We send home “paper” in the form of Newsletters and notes.
- We communicate monthly positive messages to parents (through agenda, handwritten note, email, phone call, text). This has been one area that has really helped to begin to bridge the communication gap. It’s easier to connect with a teacher when it’s based on a positive comment and not a negative.
- We host a monthly – Student of the Month – where we honor students on their hard work and focus in school (they even get to eat pizza with the principal).
- We have a webpage for our school.
- We have a Facebook page. We post important notes, pictures of events, agendas for Parent Council, and links to our webpage.
- Some teachers have classroom blog sites where they can share with students and parents what they are doing in their class.
Where do I feel we need to go? I would like to start a Twitter feed for our school. Being a “newly” connected educator, I see the value of quick short messages and links to get information. I would like to share the positive things that are happening in our school more regularly using social media. I could see starting a blog site for our school and posting interviews, pictures, and messages from students. The possibilities are endless.
It has been great reading about what other schools are doing to connect to parents. I believe the more creative ways we try to reach out, the more parents we will begin to connect with. It is so important to get our parents involved in what we do!
I have been extremely lucky to work in a school that is very innovative. We have a staff that is always open to trying new things with the ultimate goal of helping all of our students experience success.
Many years ago we were part of a group of schools in Alberta that began the 1:1 laptop program. We introduced over 120 laptops to our grades 5 and 6 students. Recently we became part of an iPad program for Alberta schools where our Grade 3’s have their own iPads and ECS – Grade 2 have enough to create literacy centers in each of their classrooms. We have also been part of many division initiatives, willing to test drive different programs to evaluate their value and help pave the way for other schools. Our latest innovative idea revolves around improving reading comprehension by creating a blocked time during each day where small groups of children read and interact with an adult.
So what makes our school willing to try innovative ideas? The main reason would be that every staff member is committed to helping every student succeed. This means more than just the academics. It means providing whatever a child needs so that they feel safe and secure and are ready and willing to learn. It makes us look at barriers that our students face and what we need to do to help them overcome them. Therefore we have a staff that is always looking for new or different ways to do things (thinking outside the box). It also means finding creative ways to challenge students so that we are always pushing their learning. Having a dedicated, passionate staff that feels they can take chances, is a very important factor.
How do we know our innovations are making a difference and how do we revisit them? We look at data. We analyze trends, areas of strength, and areas of need. We collaborate, in grade level teams, division level teams, and whole staff teams. We meet regularly to discuss how programs are working and what steps we need to take to see continued growth. We evaluate the effectiveness of an innovative idea and make sure that it fits our school and students.
Of course this means that there will be things that don’t work or need to be changed. However,we are always willing to learn from our experiences and are not afraid to make mistakes. But, those are the things that help keep the road open to pave the way for innovation.