Who Benefits?

Thinking about my project and what I’m trying to accomplish, I took a second to ask myself who would really benefit from teachers and parents being connected? I don’t think that there is one clear answer. The most important person to benefit would be the student. Having teachers and parents connected would create this unifying umbrella under which the child would find better conditions to learn. The parents may be able to help more, or at least know what’s going on in the classroom. Parents would be able to stay connected, and they could guide their child by making sure that they teach them time management and other skills that are necessary in school. The parents themselves would also benefit. They wouldn’t have to worry that their kids aren’t filling them in on assignments at school. They are creating a bond with the teacher, making them more likely to say something if they have a concern or a question about the classroom. Though it may seem less clear because it’s more work, the teacher would also benefit. Parents could be reinforcing some of the projects at home, making the teacher less stressed about holding the students accountable to give their parents a letter or let them know what’s going on in the classroom. Teachers can also explain the projects in better detail to the parents, making things more clear and less likely to have confusion. Having parents to be able to supplement what the teacher is teaching in class would also help the teacher by reinforcing concepts. Overall, many people have a lot to gain from this parent/teacher communication using social media. 

A look into low income schools and technology use

Spinning off some of the questions I proposed last time, I wanted to look into how low income schools provide and use technology. After some research, I found an article on the Encompass Academy in Oakland California that really showed some innovative ways to get around the lack of money when it comes to technology. They really budgeted and bought desktops since they are more durable than laptops and tablets. My favorite thing about the article was that a company had donated tablets for the kindergarteners, and I believe that they were able to take these home and use them there as well. This solution could potentially fix the barrier of people not having access to technology if the kids are physically able to take the tablet home. Even better, the school specifically talked about how they wanted to get the parents involved, and they even offered lessons to help the parents learn how to utilize the tablet efficiently. Because most of the population’s first language isn’t English, this technology is actually able to bridge the language barrier gap by having many apps and programs for translation. This means that parents are actually able to understand their kid’s homework, and they can help them out more.

With this article in mind, I wanted to think of things that other schools could learn from this example. First, I feel that it’s really important to try to make contact with companies that can donate products such as tablets and computers. These gestures are really useful to the students and improve learning tremendously. Second, low income schools are often the schools that need these technologies the most. These students may need supplementary help to reinforce what they learned in an oversized classroom with a teacher as a limited resource. Third, I feel that this school was spot on with getting the parental involvement. I know that my topic is about parents and teachers connecting, but the fact that they used this technology to bond with the parents is brilliant. The tool or tablet then is able to provide so much more for the student than apps and the internet; it’s able to provide an engaged and understanding household. I know that what this school has done was a difficult task, and ultimately they were lucky to find resources that were willing to donate tools, but I feel that the real example is what they were able to do with these resources and how they truly used them to the fullest.

I think for my next post I want to continue to look into school systems and how they budget technology. I may also dabble into government assistance and how that may help low income families gain access to technology.

Article referenced above:

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/09/10-essential-tips-for-meeting-tech-needs-of-low-income-schools/

Questions go unanswered

I have been googling social media use to connect parents and teachers, and a lot has shown up. There are tons of articles on the benefits of social media use to connect parents and teachers. There are also resources that show what types of tools to use to connect parents and different ideas to get them involved. Upon reading all of these articles, I got really excited to see that some teachers are already connecting with social media, and then I became disappointed because I felt that maybe my project was useless if social media is already a communication tool for parents and teachers. Pushing my disappointment aside, I looked back at my questions and realized that none of the articles are answering the “how can we work with parents that don’t have access to social media?” question. I feel that this question may become my focus within this project. I am really interested specifically in schools in low income area where the students as well as the parents may not have home access to computers and technology. These situations may be the most vital to have parent/teacher communication to ensure that the child is getting the best education possible with the resources. I want to focus on the changes that can be made to help the teacher communicate with these parents that may be single parent homes, working multiple jobs, and have little time to devote to connect with the teacher. I don’t think that there will be a quick fix to a situation like this, but I want to look into the possible changes that could be made to make communication better and more efficient between the parent and teacher within low income/lack of resources situations.

 

Here’s some links to the articles that I was talking about in the beginning:

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/workshops-helping-parents-embrace-social-media

http://www.weareteachers.com/community/blogs/weareteachersblog/blog-wat/2013/07/31/engaging-parents-with-social-media-the-3-cs-of-success

Starting my 20% Project

When the project was assigned, I was really trying to think about a topic where what I learned would be beneficial for me after this class. In a previous assignment, I had discussed my passion to become a high school counselor, and how I could change the way students were connected to their counselors through the use of social media. That idea formed into the concept of using forms of social media to connect the teachers and parents of classrooms, especially in an elementary setting. Now that I have my focus, I have come up with goals that I plan to answer throughout this project:

Do some teachers use social media now to communicate to parents?

What social media tool would be the best for this type of communication?

What school policies affect the use of social media, and how can teachers make sure they are using social media effectively?

How do teachers make sure that they can connect with all parents, even the ones who may not have access to social media?

I hope to find answers to all of these questions, and maybe these will prompt even more questions that I haven’t even considered yet.