Tag Archives: connected parent

WPED – Encouraging a Passion for Life-Long Reading with JoEllen McCarthy

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We had the pleasure of speaking with JoEllen McCarthy (@JoEllenMcCarthy) about encouraging a passion for reading on our latest WPED program. Aside from the plethora of information that JoEllen has at her fingertips, she has a magical way of delivering it with enthusiasm and fun! If you haven’t had the opportunity to see her present, do yourself a favor and mark your calendar for any upcoming events. Her website with dates, blog posts, and many links to the resources she shares can be found here:

http://www.alwayslearningll.com/

 

Check out our latest program where we discuss encouraging a passion for reading for all students. We talk about the importance of a learning community that incorporates teachers, students, and parents. Also discussed is the transition from elementary to middle school and the needs students have as they grow. Resources are shared throughout the discussion – making this a fun-packed, information rich program!

http://www.bamradionetwork.com/creating-positive-school-culture/3125-encouraging-a-passion-life-long-for-reading-in-young-children

bam

 

 

 


Family Engagement in Middle School

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In the next few weeks, my oldest is finishing up his elementary school experience and moving on to middle school. Having been in the same school for 7 years, we have had plenty of time to build relationships with his teachers. Ones where I feel comfortable that any one of us can address a concern before it becomes an issue. I also had 7 years to become progressively more involved in not just my son’s class – but the school in general. In September, when he starts middle school, I anticipate my involvement will be different.

Last week, we hosted our final monthly home & school association meeting at the middle school and invited a group of our elementary alumni currently attending the middle school to sit on a panel and share their middle school experiences. We also invited the middle school home & school association’s president. The topic came up about parent involvement; we had the H&S president say they still have many similar fundraisers and volunteer opportunities as the elementary schools that need parent participation. While the home and school association was crying out for parent help, several of the students chimed in about how they were OK with their parents volunteering at the book fair or during picture day, but they didn’t want their parents chaperoning events such as the dances.

I have no idea what my role is going to be, come September. I know I cannot jump in with both feet given that I will still be in the president’s role at the elementary school and several other larger commitments – but I know that not being actively involved is simply not an option. That meeting left me wondering; how do you go about getting parents to participate? I can only imagine that by 7th grade many of the parents comfortable with diving into the parent association roles their first year are possibly burned out, and those who aren’t, may need a year or two to warm up to the idea (and at that point they are on their way out and getting ready for high school).

My opinion…

Although being personable, welcoming and putting family engagement efforts at the top of the priority list are important for all schools; I think these are crucial in settings where your families are only there for a few years. You don’t have the time to let the parents “warm up” to the idea of getting involved.

I understand these roles are volunteers, and everyone has busy family lives, but these boards/associations need to build relationships with the elementary school families BEFORE their children start middle school. A rep from the MS should attend a handful of the elementary monthly meetings and the elementary school should have a spot at the MS meetings.

I know fundraising is necessary to fill the gap between what the schools can provide and what we wish for our children to have at school – but I don’t ever believe that should be the parent association’s primary role. I would rather see one large fundraising event for the year, and all other volunteer efforts focused on supporting education. Parents don’t want to sit through a meeting with a dozen parents they either don’t really know or care to spend their limited free moments with – but they are interested in sitting to learn about topics such as tips for paying for college, how to use the technology their children are using or effective ways to communicate with their children, and seeing their children demonstrate what they have learned and worked so hard on.

Let’s provide parents with the tools and resources to better support their children’s education. Family engagement is what has been proven to provide our children with a better education. Family engagement doesn’t have to cost a dime.

Are you a middle school parent? How are you involved? What tips do you have for others? I will share how I am involved (or not involved) going forward.

image credit: baldwinpta.org


Twitter Chats – Why and How

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Image Credit: http://www.freestockphotos.biz

When the principal of my children’s school first recommended Twitter to parents, I honestly thought he was crazy. Twitter is for celebrities, students/kids, and people who like to foursquare check-in and Instagram, or so I thought. I remember the day I asked my co-President how she felt about creating a PTA Twitter account; she and I agreed to go for it. That began my Twitter education.

Once online, I quickly learned about Twitter chats. I was hesitant but intrigued by the concept. An online discussion led by moderators where participants from all over the world share ideas. I had to try it. After the first chat, I was hooked. #PTChat, a discussion between Parents, Teachers, Administrators, Student, and guest speakers, has become a weekly ritual I look forward to every Wednesday. Chats are great opportunities to see issues through a different lens. As a parent, this opportunity has been not only helpful but enlightening.

To begin, the easiest way to chat is with a third party app like Tweetchat or Tweetdeck. Both allow you to sign on through your Twitter account. By typing the hashtag (#) of your chat, you will be brought into the discussion.

When you first join a chat, it is a good idea to tweet that you are participating in a chat and that your comments will be pertaining to the questions and comments for the allotted time. Once there, you will be asked to introduce yourself. The moderator will then begin the chat with Q1 – question 1. The appropriate response should begin with A1 – answer 1. This way the discussion is more easily followed by participants. When you see the answers, you can choose to favorite, retweet (quote the post to your account), or respond to the post. Oftentimes conversations will linger throughout the discussion as more thoughts are shared in response to original answers to the questions. The more participants on the chat, the quicker the chat will move. This is one reason I enjoy reading the transcripts or Storify after the chat concludes.

If you feel overwhelmed or unsure of what to say, you can always log on and read the chat as an observer. There is no harm in seeing how things work before jumping in. That being said, I wholeheartedly believe that the more you participate, the more you gain.

Please share your advice and thoughts on Twitter chats here!


Connected Parents and the Power of Twitter

Twitter Meta Moo! too far?

(Photo credit: Josh Russell)

Once I decided to give Twitter a chance, it took me months to figure out how it might be of use to me as a parent. To start I sat through a Twitter 101 night at our school. I went because I wanted to learn how to use a tool that I knew my children will be using sooner or later, whether I liked it or not. I will warn you that a 1 hour crash course is not enough time to learn a new language. It is a start though. Twitter, just as a new language, is best learned when you are immersed in it.

The first few months went by and I enjoyed seeing snippets of the school day as the principal and a few teachers tweeted…but was this it? Was it just about following celebrities and watching what happened at school? After a few months, I joined in on the weekly #PTchat. Although the title stands for “Parent-Teacher chat”, it was mostly educators (not to say they weren’t also parents – but they were speaking mostly from the educator’s perspective). As great as the topics were, just sharing out from a parents lens wasn’t going to keep me interested in using this tool…I had to get something from it.

The more people I followed, the more I participated, the more I realized that everything that is shared could also be used by parents to help their children continue the learning outside of school, educate ourselves to be better advocates for our children, and provide insight on how to improve all of our home and school partnerships. Twitter has given me tools and ideas on how to help my children get more from their studies. Ideas that I possibly could have gotten from reading dozens of books, but realistically don’t have time for. One of my biggest takeaways so far (remind you I’m only a year in) is my recent discovery of the literacy powerhouses we have access to (this sentence can be translated to whatever your interest is). It is through Twitter that I found several phenomenal books on reading comprehension; given the opportunity to observe another school’s reading workshops; and connected with and learned from literacy experts from all over the world on how to help my children improve their reading skills and then bring those ideas to the attention of our school for all students to benefit.

So where can parents start? Who can they follow? Below are two places I found people who I have drawn from. These are just a few – I encourage you to share those who have inspired you.

If your school and/or teachers, principal and fellow parents are on Twitter – follow them. The glimpse into the school day provides you with great conversation starters outside of “how was school?” and it is nice to see what other classrooms are doing. For me it was @knappelementary, @joe_mazza, @miss_a_abel and @lspencerslp. (This list has grown since then – but too many to list)

Check out chats. The first one I joined in was #PTchat. Not only can you share and get some great info/ideas from these – but you also can find other people to follow that share similar interests. This is my number one source to finding great minds and inspirations. It also provides you with the opportunity to interact with people you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance. Some of the people I have pulled the most info and ideas from are: @lisaodavis (my partner in this blogging adventure and a role model for advocating for our children); @lornacost, @drpricemitchell, @smconstantino, @drmerylain and @larryferlazzo (connecting parents and schools); @sirotiak02, @coachyetter and @johnfritzky (teachers who share the ways they inspire kids to want to learn and how they include the families in the learning); @pennykittle, @kylenebeers, @sharonletslearn (literacy superstars); and @freeingyourmind, @micheleborba and @annie_fox (pros in the mental well-being of our children).

Twitter didn’t make me a connected parent or an advocate for my children’s education – but has made me a more effective one.


SheilaSpeaking

A space for thinking, reflecting and sharing about education -- and the odd other thing...

Ingvi Hrannar

Icelandic educator, iPad 1:1 classroom, speaker & entrepreneur.

Penn-Finn Learnings 2013

Sharing our inquiries - March 23-30

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