Posted by: Kathy Cassidy | March 29, 2008

Doing it Twice

Lorna Costantini blogged about the need to communicate with parents about what is happening in our classrooms.  Primary teachers, on the whole, get this in spades.  We want the parents to be involved, to encourage, to listen and to participate because we know the children in our classroom need their support.   For years, I have complied a monthly calendar, which I send out on the first day of the month, highlighting items to bring to school, special happenings and weekly timetable items such as library day.  That calendar is now available online, but I still make paper copies which I send home with the children. I also send home a bi-weekly newsletter in a duo-tang.  I write a letter and the children write a letter.  When it goes home, the parents respond and return it to school.  The purpose of this newsletter is

  • To let the parents know about upcoming events in our classroom
  • To highlight some recent happenings in our classroom so that the parents are able to talk about them with their child
  • To have a showcase for the parents to see their children’s growing writing ability
  • To provide the parents with a venue to respond to their children’s writing
  • To encourage communication between the home and school

Wait a minute!  This sounds familiar!  Doesn’t my classroom blog do all of these things?  Why am I doing it twice? The difficulty isn’t just in the shift in the mind of the parents from the paper to the computer.  The difficulty is that every year I have one or two students who do not have Internet access at home.  Can I leave those families out of the communication process?  When I talk to teachers about the way that I do things in my classroom I tell them that using web 2.0 tools doesn’t take more time than traditional ways.  On reflection, this has not been entirely honest.  The new tools don’t take more time, but doing it twice does.  Until everyone has access, I have to do it all twice to avoid anyone being left out.  Perhaps these teachers have seen this.  No wonder they are reluctant to get involved.   

This school year, I have been struggling to find ways to streamline what I do.  Suggestions are welcome!

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Responses

  1. Kathy thanks for sending folks my way. I wanted to share something that I saw yesterday reading a school newsletter. In the package of Info, was a tips sheet from Home-School Connect. Excellent resource but requires a subscription. here is their example http://www.rfeonline.com/pdf/samples/HS0307sample.pdf
    In the tip sheet I was reading, they described a parent- student activity that used the Internet. Visiting museums online. We have all done something like that. What was really noteworthy is the Editor’s Note. For those families without the Internet that can go to the Pubic Library. Great idea but rural families can still be challenged. Until the entire world is wired in, print, radio, TV will be required to be inclusive. Never hurts to say things twice.

  2. The public library is always a suggestion that I have for parents, but to my knowledge, none of them has ever done that.
    It doesn’t hurt to tell people things twice, but I think my plea was more about time management, and about why people who are not as interested in using technology would bother when it does create extra work.

  3. Because I read your blog and visit your website 🙂

    I’m a first grade teacher and, while I use a lot of tech, including smartboard, clickers, laptops, etc…, I haven’t taken the plunge into blogging with my students. But I’m just about there. My students write to their parent’s much the same way you describe your paper versions. But that is just to their parents and frankly, they could just tell them the same thing orally (but I do it for all the same reasons that you’ve listed). The blogging allows them to reach a wider audience. They write for the world. Last winter, we were working on the vocabulary word normal in terms of weather. We don’t normally have snow but we visited your site and looked at the pictures of your kids all bundled up in jackets and decided that your “normal” weather was different than ours 🙂

    I guess I think it is a shift in thinking. You really aren’t doing it twice because your audience, while it includes parents, is wider when you blog. Paper newsletters are about communicating locally. Web 2.0 tools are about communicating globally and building personal learning networks.

    Anyway, thanks for inspiring me.

  4. Thanks, Sheryl, for reminding me about all the good things about blogging. You are absolutely right about global audience. I think I just wish that I could only blog and still get the same results. Writing that bi-weekly newsletter is seeming more and more like a chore.
    Let me know when you start blogging!

  5. Kathy,
    I struggle with the same issue, “what to do about the parents that don’t have access”? In my situation (two sessions of Kindergarten) only a few, maybe 3 families don’t have access; but I don’t want anyone left out of the loop. I started the year with a newsletter and the blog, but the newsletter quickly fell off my “to-do” list. Again, the thought being, the blog tells and shows them what we’ve been up to.
    This thought didn’t occur to me until I was reading your blog. I am thinking for my families with no access, I will print off a copy of the blog postings for the week and send the copy home with those particular children. This will allow the parents to all see the same information, and maybe inspire/motivate families to find access outside of school. It would certainly stop doing it “twice”, save paper, and promote access.
    What do you think?

    Cindy

  6. Cindy,
    Printing off the blog does sound like a good solution. I’m definitely going to think about it for next year. We are all tied to paper to some degree, but I wonder what effect it would have on my classroom to go paperless, except for those who didn’t have access. Maybe I’ll include that question in my end of the year survey. Thanks for your imput.


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