School House Wonk

"Genius without education is like silver in the mine." Benjamin Franklin

Back-To-School Night and Beyond

 Confession:  School House Wonk loves back-to-school night (and its numerous iterations, including but not limited to: curriculum night, meet the teacher, meet and greet, etc.).  Why?  Because this is your first real chance to meet the star of the show – your child’s teacher.  You learn about what’s planned for the year, a bit about the background of the teacher, and, if you’re lucky, about that teacher’s philosophy of teaching (hint: if the teacher doesn’t offer this, ask!  It’s a remarkable glimpse into what makes them tick.  That’s important to know in any relationship, especially one as vital as the teacher-parent-student relationship).  It also gives the parent a better understanding of what life is like inside his/her child’s classroom. 

Typically schools host just one back-to-school night each year.  And although there are some other formal opportunities to talk to the teacher (usually at twice-yearly parent/teacher conferences), what if we used technology to create more informal opportunities for parent/teacher/student interaction and feedback?  With the advent of Skype and related technologies, this type of interaction can now be facilitated with ease, eliminating the need to match up rigid work schedules , but still allowing for the face-to-face connection that can make meetings more productive and meaningful. It could include review of student work samples from the teacher, homework samples from the student, and possibly meetings of multiple parents for students who work in teams or groups.  

And while teachers might understandably feel overwhelmed by emails from parents about any matter of items, the prospect of regularly-scheduled meetings for interested parents might in fact reduce the email traffic teachers currently handle.  Parents could be encouraged to save certain types of questions for the next Skype meeting.  Here is a terrific list of 50 Awesome Ways to Use Skype in the Classroom and beyond.

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