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This past weekend, I had the chance to return to Chicago, the city where I started my teaching career and spent my twenties living a few blocks from Wrigley Field. The Annual #ASCD13 Conference was in town, and I fortunate to have had my session idea accepted for presentation. The session focused creating a menu of tech and non-tech communication offerings for families, while keeping the research on family and community engagement in mind.
Five things I hope attendees took away from my session:
- This work is about relationships. No tool will ever replace a real relationship between home and school that includes eye contact, tone, empathy, mutual respect and a core focus on the child. Parents need schools to build efforts from a solid foundation of face to face relationships.
- Two-way communications must become the default form of communication. Instead of one way newsletters on a PDF or hardcopy, use blogs, Google Docs, Facebook or websites that include comment sections and interactivity between home and school.
- Solicit ongoing data from your families. Make shared decisions with parents at the table based on what is best for them. The school must meet families “where they are” with and without technology.
- Host a parent-teacher book chat to develop shared capacity on research-based family engagement core values. Recommended reading for parents, teachers, leaders: Four Core Beliefs (Beyond the Bakesale, 2007).
- Become a connected educator / connected parent, and harness the power of human idea sharing from like minded people. The Twitter Personal Learning Network (PLN) is arguably the very best thing education has going for it right now. It is truly best for kids when we’re able to collaborate transparently.
Three resources from my session
@KnappElementary parents Deborah Rzepela-Auch & Gwen Pescatore detail the tech and non-tech efforts happening at Knapp Elementary School to complement family and community engagement efforts, and how they’ve experienced these efforts from a parents’ perspective. (Runtime: 12 minutes)
Session Participant Chat Archive/Takeaways