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 🙂 ), 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.