How do families and schools stay connected when technology, as basic as cell phones, doesn’t exist? This past week I spent a week staying in Hartwick, NY. A small town next to Cooperstown with NO cellular service while my oldest child stayed nearby with his baseball team (fully “connected”). When we first arrived I simply found it inconvenient. As the days passed, and I could only talk to my son via a corded land line phone, I began to really wonder how they do it in this town…that is after I questioned how a place not in the middle of nowhere, could have no cellular service and my youngest complained about the phone being broken because it sounded like a bee was buzzing on it. One of the many things I love about our elementary school is how we don’t just use one tool to communicate. We share information through paper, face-to-face, email, website and social media. We have many options as to how we reach our families…no matter how busy they are.
If we were to live in a location without access to the most basic technology, how could we keep everyone in the loop and on the same page? How do those families who don’t have that time to go to the school, get their information? Or aren’t they? I don’t believe their children are any better about bringing home all the papers from school, or that their parents are any better about remembering all of the fundraisers, activities and events; so there needs to be another way to share information and ideas.
In my short stay, I can say I witnessed conversations about school, politics and local news happening on a Saturday at the local farmers market, at the local restaurant during breakfast and dinner (where at the times we were there, we were the only non-local “guests”), and as they strolled down the street in the evening. These face-to-face conversations are crucial, and as a PTO or school, although always important, are even more so.
Taking their monthly meetings “on the road”; varying the times, days and locations so that all families have a chance to catch up on what is happening could be effective at that restaurant, or the farmers market…or even at the little local library on the Friday evening when they’re open, in reaching those not able to get to the school. Instead of reaching them where they are on their mobile devices – you reach them where they are physically.
Any thoughts on other ways? I wish I had more free time while I was there. I would love to have chatted with the local parents; learn more about what they do.