Tag Archives: Learning

Twitter for Parents in the Eduworld?

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Image Credit : http://www.sxc.hu/

The Journey to Finding Your Voice and Place on Twitter

When I first began my Twitter journey, I was consumed by all the information available. I drank everything in; constantly re-tweeting posts so I could have a record of articles I wanted to read, jumping on every chat that showed up in my feed, and reaching out to authors and other individuals that I had respected from afar. The experience was exhausting, but so worth the late night info binges!

After much time, I feel that I have finally found my Twitter voice. As a parent interested in education, it has been a windy road. Finding a chat that genuinely wants, not just welcomes  a parent’s lens is not a given. There are certainly educators who are not interested in conversing with non-educators.  I may have also brought my baggage with me. I spent just as much time looking up terms in the beginning as I did sharing my thoughts. Cutting through the edu-jargon and acronyms took time.

One thing I had to remind myself as I got more into the Twitter world, which is easy to forget, is that there are people behind those posts. Some are nice, some not so nice.  Some with valuable information to share, some….. And some individuals have agendas that don’t include me or other parents. Twitter is a reflection of the workplace for educators. Some strongly hold on to hierarchies, even antiquated ones. Some really want to change those paradigms and reshape education as a true partnership with not only parents but students as equal players.

All those hours sifting through chats, hastags, and follows, I have found people that really challenge my mind, respect my input, and encourage more interactions. I have found educators who respect parents making the effort to learn more about education. I have found chats that appreciate and seek parent points of view. I am always appreciative of educators who are evolving and refining their perspectives. Those are the people I want to learn with. Those are the people who inspire me to push myself to reach for more.

One of my goals as a Parent Leader has always been giving parents a voice; enabling them to have a seat at the table. Twitter has been an instrumental tool in allowing me to contribute in conversations with teachers and administrators. In order to successfully find your way, you have to hit a few bumps and then pick yourself up and carry on. The journey is part of the prize.

Some of my favorite chats include:

#PTChat, #NYEDchat, #COLChat, #ArkEdChat, #TMSHawkChat, #FinnedChat

This post is dedicated to some truly special educators:

@TonySinanis, @DaisyDyerDuerr, @thomascmurray, @JohnFrtisky, @donald_gately, @timdwalk, @DavidHochheiser

Thank you!

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What I Want From My Child’s School…

It s that time of year and there’s lots of talk about what families want from their schools and teachers. For a hot moment here and there I get caught up in convos and then I realize, as a parent, I need nothing fancy or trendy. I asked a few friends (from various schools), thinking maybe I was not of the norm…and they all responded with almost the same kind of answers (some of which I’ve inserted throughout).

First and foremost, I want my child to be safe. I want to know that the people caring for my children the 6 hours or so when they are not with me, are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure they come home that afternoon. We live in a different world than the one I grew up in, it’s more than a crossing guard at the street corner and periodic fire drills.

I want the best educational experience possible for my child. “For my child,” because each child is unique and what is best for little Joey three seats over isn’t always what’s best for my child. This means you need to get to know them. You need to know what makes him/her tick; when you can push them to do more and when they are overwhelmed.

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I say “ experience” because I want more than good grades on tests. I want them to experience learning in ways that I might not think of as a parent or have the means to teach at home. I want them to see your passion in learning and want to mimic it. Yes, I expect them to know that 2×2=4; why that is, other ways to get the same results, and how to get the answer when someone isn’t there to help them. But education is more than test grades. They’re in a room/building full of people their own age who very well may come from a place unlike what they know at home. That might mean a different religious belief/culture, how they get down the hallway, or that family doesn’t always equal a mom, a dad, a brother, sister and dog. These things should be celebrated and shared. One thing I love about my children’s school more than the one I attended is the diversity. For me growing up, we had to read, watch a movie, or travel to learn about others different from us. My children have the ability to learn about them from their friends, classmates and neighbors. If our schools have that, we should use that to our advantage. Let the kids and their families share their first-hand knowledge with others. What better way to expand their mind and make them more empathetic to others as they go through life; teaching them that the world is bigger than them.

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Communicate with me…not just at. I like using technology to communicate; it is my preference since it makes it easier for me when on the go – but it isn’t required. A simple hand-written note or phone call works just as well. But if my job is to make sure my children head into school prepared and then support your efforts from home; I need to know what and when something is happening. (Yes we need to teach our kids to be responsible for themselves – but younger ones don’t always remember, and I don’t enjoy having to run items to the school last minute nor do I enjoy seeing my child in tears because they missed a spirit day or did poorly on a test because didn’t feel comfortable asking for help in class). I enjoy knowing what they are learning and what is expected of them. Not to be the helicopter parent who doesn’t trust you are doing your best – but because there are many opportunities for us to build on these lessons at home; providing them with a deeper understanding. Ultimately – I want to have a line of communication in place from the start of the year so that we all are being proactive and not reactive. I’m a much happier mom when I know an issue seems to be arising (be it with learning or social), then when I am learning about the issue too late (i.e. report card has been issued or my child is sitting in the principal’s office).

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Along the same lines – I want to be Informed. This may be my oldest child or first time experiencing this issue and I am learning some things as I go. If you know of tools, resources or upcoming events…please share them. I don’t take insult that I am a bad parent and need to be told or taught. I know I am a good parent – but I don’t necessarily know how to help my child struggle with a learning issue that I never had myself or how to apply for financial aid to minimize the amount of money we are spending out of pocket for them to attend college. Just as I turn to my dentist to provide me with the best treatment options out there today for my teeth, I turn to the school to provide me with the resources or answers out there to help me provide the best education possible for my children.

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Respect. Just as you want my child and I to respect you and your position; I want you to respect my child and me as equal partners in their education. You may have the degree in education – but we all bring something valuable to the conversation.

In making these requests, in return I promise to support your efforts from home. To respect and trust you with my child. Ultimately…do the same from home that I am asking to be done at school.


Are There Benefits to Cutting Physical Activity in Schools?

“*** is considering cutting two or three physical education teaching positions and reducing the number of days it offers gym classes to high school students in an effort to manage costs.” A statement I heard on the news today, and many times before (many school names could start this sentence off).

There is the initiative, Let’s Move, by the First Lady, Michelle Obama (www.letsmove.gov) and the mission to provide healthy foods for kids at school, yet I am amazed at how many times I hear schools cutting out recess and gym because of budgets or because they feel the need to increase class time.

I am not an expert – but I know that before I ask my children to sit and focus for any length of time, I need to let them run around a bit. It almost always guarantees me that they will behave and pay attention. On road trips, I stop and let them run every few hours; otherwise I will have endless battles. I cannot imagine a classroom of 20 kids or so is any different. As far as health, no one can argue, a healthy lifestyle is not simply eating right, but also exercising. If we are pushing for health – it is of equal importance that we teach both eating right and exercising.

Now there are plenty of studies (by experts) that prove that exercise is not only healthy for you physically – but also mentally. An article in US News quotes John Ratey, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist and author “Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning, even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain.”

They also go on to share, “high school students scored better on high-attention tasks after doing 10 minutes of a complicated fitness routine compared to 10 minutes of regular activity. (Those who hadn’t exercised at all scored the worst.)”

So how are we justifying cutting out physical activity in school??


Are We Really Supporting Their Learning At Home?

Knowledge-will-bring-you-the-opportunity-to-make-a-difference

 

“Knowledge will bring you the opportunity to make a difference.”

~Claire Fagin

 

I thought I was doing it all “right”. I made sure my children had plenty of books to read at home, reviewed their homework at the end of each night and made sure they understood everything (because too often I found they didn’t feel comfortable, or think to ask the teacher to explain something in more detail), maintained regular contact with their teachers, and took them to museums and such to build on the topics they were learning in school.

It was my answer to the following question that led me to doubt my support: Were my children prepared to compete with their peers for the same spot in a school or job down the road?  When I answered that with a “no,” I realized I didn’t know (nor did I ever think to ask) for a few basic pieces of information.

  • What are the long term goals beyond the chapter or topic they are currently studying? What is it that is expected of them the following year, or even a few years down the road? Without this information, my children are simply setting short term goals to get through an upcoming test or chapter, and not preparing for what’s to come.
  • What is in the curriculum? For example, my kids come home and share what book they read in school. They have no idea what the teacher is trying to teach them through that story; be it a genre, grammar, or an underlining message. If I know what the curriculum is, I can work on the same thing at home using a different story or in a different context, and ask more thought provoking questions about the book; reinforcing everything taught in school.

 

Do I think I wasted my time over the years or not add to their learning experience? No. But with these few things I can begin to be a real partner, more effectively supporting learning at home. If parents and teachers are going to work together as a team to educate our children – parents need to be provided with the information, tools and resources to do so.

 (A note: this is one of my “live and learns” with my oldest, who is getting ready to transition from elementary to middle school.)

 


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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