October is Connected Educator Month. SmartBlog on Education will be bringing you content throughout the month to celebrate CEM.
Over the past several years the importance of being a connected educator has been emphasized at educational conferences, written about in books and posted on social media. There is no doubt that this is a much welcomed change to the world of education. Which is why other school stakeholders, such as parents and community members, must understand how vital it has become to stay connected in the virtual world. No longer is an option to stand idly by and simply ignore all of the wonderful things taking place in schools around the world. Everyone now has a responsibility to contribute, especially with the evolution of technology and how easy it has made it to access information and share our lives with others. The more we connect and share as stakeholders, the more likely the success of students will be impacted.
Take for example the role Twitter now has in extending the conversation at home. I was thrilled to find out earlier this school year that my son has a teacher that tweets classroom happenings. One day she tweeted how the class did a “close” reading exercise on turtles as part of their science studies. Seeing that tweet allowed my wife and I to have a conversation with our son at the dinner table about what he learned in class that day. A simple tweet can mean so much in today’s world, especially if you are a parent or community member. School stakeholders now have a viable option to stay connected with a few clicks of the mouse or taps on the screen.
Websites have transformed over the past few years and provide an opportunity for people to have a virtual “one-stop shopping experience.” Scott Rocco, superintendent of the Spotswood School District in N.J., recently led efforts to revamp his district’s website. Information is now accessible for all stakeholders and shines a light on all that is good in education. Consumers have access to social media feeds, digital documents and relevant content. There is no doubt that in today’s society, schools and their stakeholders must be committed to taking advantage of a robust and interactive website.
Allison Hogan, a teacher at the Episcopal School in Dallas, uses the Photo Circle App to keep her parents informed of classroom happenings. Throughout the day she will take pictures of student learning experiences and post them to a private account within the app. This enables her parents that are registered for the service to stay connected with their children through photos. It helps tells her classroom story and promotes a sense of pride about the learning that is taking place on a daily basis.The more parents are in the know about their child’s education, the more likely all students will be successful in the long run.
Over the last month at my own school, Black River Middle School in Chester, N.J., we have been experimenting with the Remind app as a way to inform stakeholders. It has been a big hit and enables us to push out content throughout the school day. Users have the option to receive reminders via text message, email or through the app itself. Daily announcements, the quote of the day, upcoming events and resources can be shared with ease.
Having an established virtual connection with stakeholders helps with keeping everyone on the same page. Also, differentiating how people are able to connect with your school and vise-versa is crucial. Being a connected educator or parent goes a long way in promoting the success of students. The proliferation of devices and available web tools have provided everyone a chance to stay in the know and have a chance to contribute.
Brad Currie is the author of All Hands on Deck: Tools for Connecting Educators, Parents, and Communities. He is one of the founding partners of Evolving Educators LLC. Brad is a 2014 ASCD Emerging Leader and Bammy Award Finalist. He currently serves as a K-8 Supervisor of Instruction and Middle School Vice Principal for the Chester School District in Chester, NJ. Learn more about Brad by following him on Twitter @bradmcurrie or visiting his website at www.bradcurrie.net.
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