Shannon and I have been working together on our project since Alec’s presentation on digital citizenship, and last night was our grand finale! We hosted a “Parent Engagement Night” at our school. It will stand as a highlight of my experience in EC831 for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it provided us with an opportunity to share our learning with people we care about in our school community and beyond. While I have enjoyed and benefited from engaging in online learning networks, I really love connecting with people face-to-face. The issues facing parents are now both more “real”, and more pressing to me because I have faces and families that are on my mind and heart. We had about 20 people attend our session. It was a fantastic group of people: Moms, Dads and a Grandpa, too (who happens to be my Dad!), a mix of cultures (this was wonderful, as it accurately reflected our school community), a mix of ages, and a blend of backgrounds with social media. My family (big brother, sister-in-law, Dad and sister-like friend) made a delightful surprise appearance. I love and appreciate the support of my family!
In our first class, Alec asked us: “How are you making your learning visible?” This night would be one response to this question. Sharing should be a simple concept, but excuses seem easy to find. Most times, I feel that I am just “too busy” as a teacher to take the time to connect with my community in this way. I am most concerned about my students on a day-to-day basis and it is easy (and also overwhelming) to consider engaging with parents, as well. This was an important reminder for me to reach out to families. It likely shouldn’t be such a rarity that two teachers would offer a presentation to parents. A closer connection between parents and teacher could definitely impact a community; I’m just not sure how to practically make that happen with tired teachers and busy schedules. Food for thought!
It was also a valuable process to dig into the issues Alec presented during his class on digital citizenship. His presentation sparked so many questions and wonderings for me. I felt a weight to share both the stark realities of the digital world, but also the wonderful, wonderful opportunities for kids and parents online. I think we were able to find a balance of this in our presentation. Shannon and I followed chats on Twitter (helpful timing with the SoMe Summit) and make helpful connections online with other educators.
It was also just plain fun to work with such a good friend! Shannon and I used a number of ways to collaborate throughout the process. We both contributed to a growing Pinterest board on Digital Citizenship, we shared a Google Doc together that helped us brainstorm an outline, and we collaborated for our presentation using Prezi. We also created a blog together: Connected For Good. I am really glad that we did this as it was a great resource to offer parents! We organized all of the resources (and more) that we used during our presentation on our blog.
What They Had To Say…
Another highlight was simply having the opportunity to listen. We did far more speaking than listening, but there was opportunity for parents to share their thoughts and concerns. Some shared with the group while others provided helpful written feedback at the end of the session. One mom wondered about how digital citizenship is reflected in the teaching curriculum. Another chimed in as a high-school guidance counsellor. This brought added richness to the conversation and a fresh perspective. Here are the written thoughts of a couple others:
“One thing that I will take away from tonight is that it is NOT all bad. It was a good reminder that social media can be used for good things. We must just all be aware and present, and teach our kids the ‘rights and wrongs’- just as we do with all things in life. And also, that my kids can usually teach me more than I can teach them and I can be open to that”.
“Likely the biggest point I will take away is that “ignorance is not bliss!” I am afraid of social media but your presentation has inspired me to become engaged and learn more about these sites along with my children. They are just starting to be interested in signing up for these accounts so we will learn together- I plan to use the Family Media Agreement to begin the discussion.”
Receiving such positive feedback was definitely rewarding as a presenter. We were glad to read that our presentation struck a chord and ignited some needed thoughts, questions and wonderings- in the same way that I was inspired by Alec.
Where do we go from here? Shannon and I can continue to stay plugged in with parents through our blog. We will listen to other parent concerns and remain open to holding another session. A number mentioned that they would be interested in attending future events. These could address similar issues, it could also dive deeper into specifics on using social media. So while our digital project has “officially” concluded in terms of course requirements, it is really just the beginning of this conversation. I am grateful for such a positive beginning, and I look forward to what is yet to come.