Earlier today, I read this blog post by Will Richardson that really got me thinking. His post talks about parents not knowing what their children are learning in school, and it goes on to discuss why this might be the case and how this is likely to continue to be a reality. This evening I wonder: how widespread a problem is this? I think that I work hard at trying to make the opposite true, and that I’m not alone in ensuring that parents DO know what their kids are learning in school.
Every night, my partner and I publish a blog post that highlights what the children have done all day, what they’ve learned (connected to the curriculum expectations), and how parents can extend this learning at home. We tweet and Instagram photographs and videos all day long, including mini-learning stories, that we feature in our daily blog post. Some might argue that this only happens because our students are in Kindergarten, but even when I taught Grades 5 and 6, I used Storify and captured and shared our daily learning through a class blog.
From Kindergarten to Grade 6 and at various schools, I’ve used this same blog approach to engage parents, and over the years, I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from them. I really think that parents want to help their children, and by knowing what’s happening in the classroom and having some prompts for extending this learning at home (a special “thank you” to Aaron Puley, who taught me the importance of doing this), students benefit. As Aaron also reminded me, we need to view parent engagement through an “equity lens.” This is why I also call parents — regardless of grade — regularly to connect with them, as it’s through these phone conversations that we also have learning discussions. For some parents, this works better than the digital option. For others, the opposite is true. Choice matters — for parents and for kids!
While I’m talking here about my own experiences, I also know that I’m not the only teacher connecting with parents in these different ways. I see lots of class blogs through our Board’s blogging platform, and I see and hear the stories of the phone conversations and face-to-face discussions with parents about classroom learning. Educators are inviting parents into classrooms, and parents and children are learning together. The home/school connection is only further reinforced through the Full-Day Early Learning Kindergarten Program Document, and as the underlying philosophy in this document (and the new one) spreads, I see the potential for even greater home/school relationships and co-learning in other grades.
While I feel as though I have a more optimistic view of the home/school “learning connection” than the one highlighted in Will’s post, I’m left wondering …
- Am I missing something here?
- Is my sample size too small?
- What else could we do as individuals, as a Board, and even as a system, to change the situation outlined in Will’s post?
While I’d like to think that parents already have an idea of what kids are learning in school, I’d also hope that they want to know and that educators want them to know. Is this just my Utopian ideal or is it an achievable goal? What’s your perspective?