#Edchat 10 – 25 – 2011 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST
Thanks go to Jeffery Heil for this #edchat summary. I like the easy manner of his prose. This is a topic that we address frequently in #edchat and I think you will agree that Jeffery has produced an excellent resume of the chat. Thank you Jeffery! See Jeffery’s bio at the end of the post
Overview (and my three cents):
This was a very interesting and informative #edchat. The main themes are listed below. The discussion was to a great extent, non-techie, which I think hints at the necessity to establish authentic relationships with our students’ parents. I imagine many teachers would not be surprised by most of the themes that surfaced. Of course it is important to make the parents feel valued and that communication is a major component of successful parent engagement. One of the themes I want to highlight is the importance of understanding the relationship between culture and parent engagement. In the United States, a country where the dominant cultural value is one of equality, I believe many of our parents of non-dominant cultures are often misunderstood at best, and marginalized at worst. Rare is the parent who truly doesn’t want her child to receive a quality education; however, many parents from these cultures had negative school experiences themselves. In many of their minds, a school is a not an inviting place where they feel welcome. As such, it often takes more effort from the school/teacher to truly reach these parents. This is where the dominant cultural value of equality can interfere. “I gave all my parents the opportunity to meet with me in their allotted time.,” says the well-meaning teacher who believes in equality over equity. First, this concept can be foreign to a parent who doesn’t see time as such a valuable commodity. They may not make it to their student’s class precisely at their 3:46pm – 4:06 pm time slot. Such constraints, coupled with past experience, may make a face-to-face meeting difficult. Second, the imbalance of power, either perceived or real, often scares away these parents, especially if we are talking about parents who do not speak English. Teachers need to understand that there is a sociopolitical nature to the parent/teacher dynamic that is often either neglected or simply not understood. In addition, the socioeconomic issue can often cloud the cultural one. This is where community involvement can go a long way to bridge this cultural gap. If a teacher can have a presence in the community, if member of the community can feel valued, if we can change the perception of schools as a place that perpetuates societal inequality, then we might start to see the type of change necessary to truly engage all of our parents.
Here are some of the main themes from the discussion:
- Using technology to increase transparency of what is going on at school (blogs, wikis, FB, Twitter, etc.)
- importance of making parents feel like their input matters
- Having teachers involved in the communities where their students live
- Communicate with parents often, especially to relay positive news- avoid negative communication (communicating with parents only when student does something wrong)
- Teachers need to be mindful that some parents had negative school experiences and may require more effort to achieve engagement
- Schools should consider creating spaces within schools for parents to use technology, to learn/communicate, etc.
- school should be inviting for parents– conferences/workshops should have food, space for siblings
- teachers/schools need to be aware of the challenge of involving parents who both work
- teacher/schools should take a close look at current model for parent engagement – what is working, what is not?
Short, but Tweet: Highlights from the #edchat participants:
This was a very lively discussion. I have chosen to highlight what I believe to be both the positive aspects of how we might increase teacher engagement and some of the key obstacles of which teachers/schools may not be aware.
@cnesbitt1811: make use of online resources such as FB and possibly dedicated website areas were parents can receive support #edchat
@hadleyjf: Teach parents about the tech tools that their kids are learning, get them to respond to sts. blog posts #edchat
@CTuckerEnglish: Parents who can “see” what is happening in the classroom get more involved = increased communication & transparency are needed #edchat
@K_shelton: I make it a class policy, when possible, student must CC parents on all email, invite to all google docs, and to e-portfolio #edchat
@tomwhitby: I would replace those worthless back to school nights w/workshops for parents on topics to help their kids. Hmwk/Study/Tech/Bullying.#Edchat
@csteenst: #edchat- Help parents help kids by making an online presence with your stuff and links to help explain classwork- make them learners too!
@ShellTerrell: Parent engagement means parents get to be part of the decision process when it comes to their children’s learning #Edchat
@Joe_Mazza: Now matter how cool, convenient and efficient using technology for communicating is, it will never replace face to face dialogue #edchat
@TestSoup: @FinEdChat Keyword: “weekly” — a parent shouldn’t only hear about their kid’s progress once every quarter. Info is key. #edchat JJW
@ShellTerrell: Just like we dont give up on kids who dont seem engaged, we shouldnt give up on their parents #Edchat
@Caplee62: Our parent conference day was not a day but a week and more. & tchrs went 2 their jobs/homes if necessary to make positive contact. #edchat
@chrismayoh: Allow parents to attend ‘drop in’ mornings/afternoons where they can come and see what happens in your classroom day to day #edchat
@EmmanuelleEN: Some parents are terrified to get involved in schools : feel inadequate, or schools bring bad memories to them. #Edchat
@jogyouon: We ask parents about key issues in school, publish overall findings and change if necessary – so important to listen! #edchat
@drdouggreen: @ShellTerrell Obstacles: Bad memories of their school days, Time, distance, interest, intimidation by school staff, #Edchat
@chrismayoh: Go OUTSIDE in the mornings to greet students AND families. Anything you don’t NEED to do as part of your job is always appreciated #edchat
@kelrjen: What if teachers became more visible in the community OUTSIDE of school #edchat
@doc_crawford: Transparency re: info, pedagogy,& expectations are also key to parent involvement #Edchat
@wmchamberlain: I have a lot of parents that had bad experiences at school when they attended. School is not their favorite place. #edchat
@cybraryman1: Plan hands-on workshops for parents (provide refreshments, child care) on how their children use tech in school #edchat
To follow the complete discussion see here
I have been a teacher with the San Diego County Office of Education’s Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) for over 13 years. For eight years, I taught high school in a self-contained shelter for homeless teens in downtown San Diego. Currently, I am a technology resource teacher where I work with JCCS students and teachers to integrate technology into their curriculum. I am deeply committed to issues of educational equity and social justice in schools. In 2005, I was selected as a Distinguished Teacher in Residence at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM), where I taught full-time in the School of Education during the two years I was “on loan” from JCCS. I still teach at CSUSM as an adjunct professor, where I teach courses on diversity and inclusion as well as educational technology.