It's that time of the year when my mind is in my classroom quite often and I'm at my computer preparing for the upcoming school year. I'm in the midst of learning a new curriculum for a new position, which I'm really excited for. In saying that I need to reevaluate how I "share the learning" with families as to what's happening in our classroom.
In the past, I've used a variety of tools and techniques to attempt opening a window into my classroom, from the traditional newsletter, too blogging, to my YouTube channel. Each year modifying, dropping or adding a tool to meet the students and families where they're at as they consume the information I'm sharing. It's very unrealistic to keep doing it the same way as I've done it for the past five and ten years.
What I've learned is parents love to hear and see what's happening in my classroom with their child. It doesn't matter what the tool is as much as the experience. Giving parents a window into our classrooms opens the communication lines at home to an otherwise answer to “school was just fine today”, by their child.
My informal poll from last year started at our spring parent-teacher conference. I had families representing over 30 students come to speak with me. Three-quarters of those families went out of their way to thank me for creating my YouTube channel and sharing what we were doing in my classroom. Fast forward we had two more field trips with parent volunteers after those spring conferences. 100% of those parent volunteers knew my school YouTube channel and also thanked me for doing that.
Teachers are doing some really amazing things in the classroom. So many effective teachers feel like they're boasting if they share these experiences beyond the four walls of learning. That was the way it used to be but things have changed. Teachers need to market the student growth that is happening and build a stronger triangle of learning, students, families and teachers.
With that in mind, I plan on being much more proactive in how I share with families because I’ve seen how important such communications are. Especially this year with over 225 students each semester coming into my classroom. That does seem a bit overwhelming yet worth every minute of energy put into sharing our classroom journey.
I plan on sharing the tools as I use them during the course of the year and hopefully some feedback as to how families are consuming them. From one way posts to interactive tools and of course video. Before selecting the tool, it's time to think about how my audience is going to be consuming my updates.