EDTV and Parent Engagement: Possibilities For The Upcoming School Year

Over 11 years ago, Aaron Puley and I started conversing, sharing, and reflecting on parent engagement together. At the time, he was the Parent and Student Engagement Consultant for our Board, and now, he’s a vice principal. I’m reminded of these discussions a lot this summer in my role as the Coordinator for Camp Power and Camp CLIMB. Parent engagement is an important component of these camps, and just like all of those years ago with Aaron, we’ve definitely been talking a lot about viewing engagement through an equity lens.

This summer, we’ve been thinking about a few different ways that we can engage parents, while also being responsive to their requests and insights. For the first time ever, we started a camp Instagram account, as we know that many families are on Instagram, but not necessarily Twitter. That said, some families and educators engage with us through Twitter, so we did not want to remove this option. We decided though to use Instagram in a slightly different — more focused — way. We’re creating EDTV videos, where instructors, site leads, and maybe even administrators, share a daily 1-2 minute video about learning at the camp and a home extension opportunity. Either through the video or through the description, we’re asking questions and inviting conversations with families about learning at home. Knowing that some families like to interact with us more on Twitter, we’re also tweeting out these videos each day. I really appreciated this tweeted reply to our first video.

As I started to post more of these videos, I had an epiphany, which a few days later, has inspired this blog post.

What about taking this idea back to the school? I realize that a social media way of sharing is not going to work for every family, but I wonder if these short video recordings could be a good way to share school learning and extension opportunities for home. Maybe by cross-posting to Twitter, Instagram, and even a blog (I’ve just requested a new one πŸ™‚ ), we can engage more families and inspire more sharing.

In September, I’m starting as a Reading Specialist at a different school. As I build relationships with the staff there, it would be great if they could also share their recordings on this platform. These videos would align with the learning shared through our monthly Reading Specialist Meetings and the experiences taking place at school. I would love if families could also start to request topics for videos — maybe both through an online survey and a home paper option. I’m still thinking about exactly what this will look like, but I’m hoping that this blog post will make me accountable to jump in and try something new. Will it work for everyone? Probably not. But could this be an effective way to engage families and share school experiences? I think that it could, and seeing the number of families that are following along with these videos this summer, I’m seeing a lot of potential. Have you ever tried something similar before, and how did families respond? I’d love to hear your insights as I continue to think aloud — and think publicly — about this new engagement opportunity. Every year, when we reflect at camp with those from the Ontario Summer Literacy Program, we’re asked what learning from the summer might make its way back into the classroom during the school year. After only one week of camp, this is one way that I would share. I can’t wait to see what the next couple of weeks bring!


Please note that I realize that there are many different kinds of families, and when I speak about “parent engagement,” I’m including engaging all of the caring adults in our lives.

4 thoughts on “EDTV and Parent Engagement: Possibilities For The Upcoming School Year

  1. Hi Aviva:
    Just knowing you’re out there doing parent/caregiver engagement makes me hopeful and happy!
    Have you thought about creating a youtube channel? I think you could make it private but I’m sure people everywhere could benefit from the learning. Just another way to provide various ways to connect. You might want to survey your families to see what means would work best for them. And if there is a translation option on any platform, use it!

    I’d also suggest having an in-person, online or hybrid meeting with parents/caregivers to explain how the platforms work and the benefits for their kids in taking advantage of this learning. Link with your School Council to arrange this. Most people are well-equipped to handle any online platform (unlike me!) but some are not – particularly parents/caregivers who are new to Canada and our education system. Many may have gone to school in a system that did not welcome parents/caregivers. Or they may think that their culture, language, knowledge are not valued here.

    Which brings me to another point – trying to include other ways of knowing and being into any program is so valuable. A recent British survey showed that kids from plurilingual families did better on their O and A level exams. It’s not a bad thing to learn, read and speak multiple languages in the home. Families don’t have to do the activities in english.

    Finally, we know that effective and meaningful engagement takes place in the home not at the school. So the work you did – and are doing – at the Camp and at school blends so well with research and student achievement. For teachers, it is about doing differently not doing more. As you plan your lessons, what hints could you send home or what parent knowledge could you call upon? For parents/caregivers, you have skills and knowledge and dreams for your kids that is essential. School and home just need to collaborate.

    Thank you Aviva, more than I can say, for all the work you do for your students – and their families!!!!

    (PS I’m here for anything you need)

    • Thank you, Nancy, so much for your amazing comment and all of your suggestions! I really want to bookmark this comment, as I know that I’ll be returning to it a lot in the coming year. Your comment around “multiple languages,” makes me think about the translanguaging components of the new Language Document. So important to think about! I also love the idea of working with the School Council and bringing families in as we introduce something new. This is something that the VP and I were chatting about recently. Having feedback from parents to find out what they want is so important, and you’re helping me think of different ways that this can happen. Once again, I’m reminded about the value of blogging our thinking and learning, for as we do, people like you reach out and give us so much more to think about!

      Thanks again!

  2. Wow. Great post, and amazing knowledge-rich response from Nancy. You both have my brain churning. Thank you. I love the reminder, Nancy, that families do not have to complete extensions in English.

    • Thanks Lisa! I love this point too, and it’s a wonderful one to share with families. I wonder if doing so might engage even more parents and kids. Nancy always gets my mind churning! πŸ™‚


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