I remember hearing Annie Kidder from People for Education talking about parent engagement a couple of years ago. She was cautioning the educators in the room to look beyond the obvious in terms of parent engagement. We often think parent engagement means that the parents actually need to show up at the school for events. This idea stuck with me…parent engagement can mean so many other things: helping your child come to school ready to learn, reading the correspondence the school sends out in order to stay informed, participating in fundraisers, responding to requests that might be made for occasional volunteering…all sorts of things, many that might not even take place in the school building or during school hours. Not every parent can be present during school hours, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be engaged in school life along with their children! As a working parent of two children myself, I looked for ways to contribute and do my part to support and understand the school, but it couldn’t happen during the school day.
So, when my principal and I were chatting about our Remembrance Day assembly and how we could bring student voice to the process and make the Remembrance more relevant to our students who are in Grades K- 6, I was thinking back to those comments from Annie Kidder and thought about using technology to help out. Here’s what we came up with to make this work!
First, I created a google slideshow and added a title slide and my example slide to model the process. Then, I created a screencast to show parents and students how to collaborate and add their slide about their family members who may serve or have served in the armed forces in Canada or other countries. I used my favourite quick and easy screencasting tool, Screen-cast-o-matic, and then uploaded it here on YouTube.
I shared the plan with staff and mentioned that I had never tried this but wanted to give it a go. I also mentioned what might go wrong, and that I had a Plan B to try and prevent any issues that I was anticipating could create any wrinkles.
It was pretty exciting when I saw the first slide come in yesterday from a family, and it continues to grow! I wonder how many will contribute? We’ll know at the end of the day Monday. These will be read by students at the assembly as we share it with our whole school, and shared out later on our school website.
One of the things I’m working on as a new administrator through the Ontario Leadership Framework, is modeling some risk-taking for staff and letting them know that I’m okay with them trying new things even though they might not always work. We all need to try new things and they might not always work perfectly, but that’s part of learning! Another focus is increasing student voice in our school and building relationships with our parent community, both things I hope will be nurtured by making this small effort to reach out and include our families in our celebrations at school.
UPDATE! This was a huge success! We had 38 slides contributed which I thought was a great result from a first attempt, and the students loved hearing their names and their families mentioned. I wonder how this crowdsourcing approach could be used in other areas?