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A Few Lessons Learned

Recently, I hosted a real time email conversation with the families of my students; only one parent participated. A second parent responded later on to say that she hadn't been able to be present at the discussion and didn't really have anything to contribute at the moment. A third parent had emailed me earlier saying she would not have internet access at that time. And, although we had a great discussion, I am left wondering at the low turnout given how comfortable it is to log in from the comfort of one's own home or mobile device. And, because I know that in order to improve at anything it is important to reflect on one's experiences, I have identified four reasons for why this may have happened. Although there may be other causes, these are ones that I will address the next time I plan a similar event.

First lesson learned: it took me several weeks to pull this session together. Did interest wane in the time it took to me to gauge parental interest and the actual discussion? Possibly. I had initially hoped to do an Elluminate session but when that looked like it wasn't going to happen I decided to try an email conversation. I had personally experienced the power of reading and responding to posts in real time, so to speak, and was hoping that my students' families would also find this form of interaction appealing. But, by this time in the year everyone is basically looking ahead towards summer.

Second lesson learned: a few parents responded that they were happy with their children's progress and/or learning plans and so didn't see the need to participate. This is actually the first time I've had this kind of response. And, although I was pleased to hear that parents were satisfied with what was happening in the classroom, I wondered at the idea that only parents who have concerns about their children see a need for attending a session with their child's teacher. Although, I was hoping for a more general interest in literacy and child growth/development, maybe that is too much too expect. So, next time I will focus the sessions around specific questions rather than broad topics.

Third lesson learned: it may have been intimidating for parents to respond to each other on email rather than be on the receiving end of a workshop by their child's teacher.

Fourth lesson learned: the conversation was on a Friday afternoon in early June. Need I say more?

Has anyone done anything similar to this? Does anyone have any ideas for a beginning of year topic? What are your thoughts about involving parents and families in the classroom using technology?
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