Last night we had Open House at our school. As the students were heading home yesterday, one child asked me, “What’s going to be out for Open House?” I went through the plan and he said, “I was just deciding if I needed to come or not. Every day, our whole day is shared on the blog. All of our work is shared online. My mom looks at everything every night. I’m just not sure if I have to come or not.” And it was because of this short interaction that I really started to think.
When using social media in the classroom, you really are creating a “window” to your room. Every day, parents can peek inside and see what’s happening, observe the students working, understand the reasons behind what they’re learning, and see the work (both as a process and as a final product). Open House is a time for parents to see the classroom and student work, but between daily tweets and regular blog posts, they see this every day.
So this got me thinking about the purpose of Open House now. It’s definitely a wonderful time to connect face-to-face with parents, grandparents, and siblings. While I email and speak on the phone to parents regularly, I don’t usually see them in person. It’s nice to have this personal connection. It’s also a great time to answer questions about the classroom program. While parents may ask these questions in different ways over the course of the year (e.g., on the phone, in an email, or even in a tweet), we can discuss these questions more when meeting face-to-face.
I’m glad that social media gives parents regular updates on what’s happening in the classroom and more options to participate in class (be it by commenting on a blog post, listening to a radio show and tweeting or emailing a comment, or casting a vote for one of our global projects). I’m also glad that we get an opportunity to connect in person at least once a year to discuss topics that may not be discussed in a different forum. It’s all about balance.
With the use of social media, is every day “Open House?” If so, are there still benefits to connecting face-to-face with families? Why? I’d love to hear your thoughts on these questions!
to respond to your question… absolutely! Social media should never replace face to face communication with anyone but what it can do is sigificantly enhance and change the types of conversations that can occur in an open house. The stories of learning can move from “this is what your child is doing” and “this is how your child demonstrated his/her learning” to “this is why your child is learning _______” and this is “who your child is”. In addition, I believe that social media can create more of a community feel so that when face to face communication occurs, there is more trust and a stronger relationship. With trust and an effective relationship, conversations at an open house will move to a different level.
Having said this, maybe this changes the purpose of an “open house” from sharing to having more meaningful dialogue?
I look forward to your thoughts.
Thanks for the comment, Chris! I think that you make a very important point here, and not really one I had considered before. If parents know the “what,” I think we could move to the “why” at Open House. If this was the type of dialogue we had at an Open House, I wonder the impact for students. I would think that this would help push them forward, as there would be this mutual understanding about learning outcomes and how home and school can work together to achieve student success. This sounds like it could lead to some powerful possibilities! Thanks for giving me something new to think about!
Another great post and great discussion Aviva. I agree with Chris. The use of social media can certainly enhance the “open house”. Just last week while at #OAME2013 I was able to meet people face to face who I am connected with online, and just as Chris mentioned it seemed like there was already a sense of trust from the get go. I’ve yet to attend an #EdCamp (regrettably) but I’m certain the same thing would happen there.
As for the powerful possibilities you mention, I’m also encouraged to dream about how the transparency provided by the various tools we use to “bring parents (and sometimes others) into our classrooms” could eventually replace older methods of evaluation and reporting (read accountability). Just as your student questioned the need for the Open House, perhaps one day parents will question the need for the Report Card if they can always have a good sense of what and how their child is doing and progressing. As a parent of a little boy (currently in JK), I’d much prefer to know better what/how he’s doing each day or week than what his report card says a couple of times a year.
Thanks for the comment, Cam! I absolutely agree with you. I think it was Andrew Campbell who wrote on this very topic (re. report cards). I do find that the more that I share online and through phone conversations with parents, the more aware they are of where their child is performing, and as such, I think that the report card carries less weight. Certainly something to think about …
Funny you brought up Edcamp, Cam – as I was writing my comment, I kept thinking about my first edcamp after I had been on Twitter for a few years. There already was a relationship which allowed the conversations to go deeper. Thanks for bringing this up as I think the comparison helps in this situation.
Chris and Cam, I noticed this a lot at EdCamp Hamilton last weekend. There were lots of people that had never met before, but because they knew each other online and had conversed so much there, the relationship was already established. This definitely did lead to some deep conversations.