Engaging Parents in the Learning: September #SchoologyChat Recap
Parents are our first teachers. The correlation is clear, “when parents support positive learning environments at home and are engaged in their child’s academic endeavors, students experience higher achievement and better educational outcomes," (Houtenville & Conway, 2008).
Times, they are a changin’, and families and communities are changing too. Back-to school nights and parent-teacher conferences are traditional examples of what Harvard researcher, Karen L. Mapp, classifies as, “random acts of parent involvement”. Improving student’s educational experiences and supporting their in-school success takes an ongoing commitment to engaging parents in the school experience.
Matthew Kraft, Assistant Professor of Education and Economics at Brown University, says digital, mobile technology must become a purposeful part of a school’s communication infrastructure. Platforms like Schoology help keep parents informed about their child’s activities and performance.
More importantly, as our September #SchoologyChat revealed, Schoology provides several ways in which two-way communication can be used to engage parents and support relationships based on the mutual goal of advancing student learning.
Engaging Parents with Schoology: September's #SchoologyChat
After introductions and some small talk about the start of the school year. #SchoologyChat participants took deeper dives into the “whys and hows” of school-parent engagement. From the beginning, it was evident our chat participants placed high importance in engaging their students’ parents, with many tweets mentioning a teacher-parent partnership.
It’s interesting to note the tweets receiving the most “likes” were those accompanied by pictures supporting the posted comment.
Going Beyond Parent Involvement to Deeper Parent Engagement
The initial description of this chat topic included the term, involvement, but Schoologists like Jill Rice reinforced the importance of engaging parents through two-way communication and relationship-building. The conversation shifted to discussing ways to get parents engaged in their child’s classroom activities.
Participants like Rod Kirby mentioned sending letters and extending personal invitations to parents, encouraging them to create a Schoology account.
Others chimed in, sharing examples of supporting parents with tutorial videos, informational workshops, and parent courses and groups within Schoology. Tina Nording shared a Schoology presentation she gives to parents during their open house.
Getting Parents to Become Active Schoology Users
How can we get parents to become regular, active users of Schoology? Our attendees suggest the use of pictures and video to give parents clear images of what their child is learning and doing.
Schoology Ambassador Melissa Stanton mentioned funneling all prominent information pieces, like PTO meeting minutes, through Schoology groups.
#SchoologyChat moderator Cory Klinge suggested the development of a Schoology parent app. Others mentioned pairing social media spaces with their Schoology feeds.
The theme that developed was to make Schoology a primary communication piece for students and their parents. Newsletters, calendars, updates, and assignments all live within the family-friendly pages of Schoology. Interactive engagement can be achieved with polls, discussions, and embedded content. Interestingly, these materials can include links to other support pieces.
As we’ve mentioned in other Schoology forums, having the interactive pieces adjacent to course content and student performance reports is a noteworthy convenience for parents. Parents appreciate being able to find everything they want in one digital place, particularly when they can access this information on their mobile device.
What Schoology Features Engage Parents Best?
What Schoology features are particularly engaging for parents? Our experts mentioned Media Albums, embedded activities, and class discussions.
Once again, the emphasis was providing ways for parents to form learning partnerships with their child, and ultimately, with school personnel as well.
Looking Forward: Improving School-Parent Engagement
We closed our conversation by sharing next steps for improving school-parent engagement. I like Glen Irvin’s suggestion of creating engaging, interactive spaces for students in Schoology, and then including parents in the fun! The idea of establishing a gamified course for parents is an idea I just may have to steal from Glen and Jared Lopatin—sounds like a winner!
Research (Bergman & Rogers, 2017) indicates inconsistent involvement and opt-in programs generally provide low levels of engagement for parents and minimal effect on academic achievement. Our chat participants reinforced what research shows, providing systemwide, consistent opportunities for parents to access information and provisions for two-way communication create a strong, positive influence on student’s academic experiences.
As usual, our #SchoologyChat participants provided valuable insight into how we can provide engagement opportunities for parents with Schoology at the center of the suggested strategies. These educators were eager to establish partnerships with parents. Schoology provides a place where these partnerships can be introduced and nurtured.
You can review the entire chat from this archive created by Schoology Ambassador Cory Klinge. Join us for the next exciting edition of #SchoologyChat on Twitter, Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017 at 9:00 pm ET.
Connect and collaborate with leaders in education during #SchoologyChat, a monthly community-led Twitter chat. Created and hosted by Schoology Ambassadors Robert Schuetz and Cory Klinge, the chat takes place on the 1st Tuesday of each month from 9:00pm–10:00pm ET. Join the conversation next month.