Thursday, March 16, 2017

20th Century Open House in the 21st Century? Let’s Rethink our Options. By Sheila Schue

This post was written by Sheila Schue, a 3rd grade teacher at Stoneridge Elementary School (@rcsdstoneridge). You can follow her on twitter @SchueSheila.


My parents went to my Open House in 1969, just like my students' parents attend my open house today, in 2017. Is Open House a thing of the past, or should we move forward with new technologies and ideas available?


Twitter has opened up a whole new way for us to communicate with parents easily and instantly. By sending an instant tweet of projects, parents can ask about what happened in school and avoid the “nothing” response given by many students when asked, “What did you do at school today?” Instead there is a picture and tweet from the teacher that can spur an instant conversation.


I am not a new teacher as evidenced by the date above.  Digging into something new, in the form of technology, is not always easy. When my principal asked if I would start tweeting I thought, “This is a ridiculous waste of my time!”, but I was willing to try something new. After all, we ask our students to try new things all the time, so why shouldn’t we do the same.


The first year I started tweeting felt weird;  How do I tweet? Who would read my tweets? Who would be interested? But my principal helped me, and by retweeting many of my posts, I noticed that others followed me.
They “liked” my tweets and, it feels good to be liked. I started following other educators, and guess what? I learned things. That was a bonus!


Twitter is such an easy way to show parents what is happening in our classrooms.

But, back to the topic at hand, how can you make parents feel connected with Twitter?
  1. Tell them your Twitter handle at Back to School Night. Explain that much of you and your classes’ “AWESOMENESS” will be shared via Twitter.
  2. Explain that you feel that if you share these things in real time, via Twitter, kids will remember them and GREAT conversations can be had at the moment instead of waiting until spring.
  3. Say that you will be sending home many projects that you shared on Twitter instead of saving them for Open House. This way students and parents can share the immediate joy of those projects, instead of waiting until Open House. (As an added bonus you won’t have to store those projects all year.)

Not only does sharing help parents have conversations with students, it is a great way for us to learn from one another as educators.
How can we still feel connected and welcome our parents on our campus besides inviting them to Open House?
  1. Say that you value parents that want to volunteer and be at school and that there will be opportunities for parents to participate.
  2. Have a few times throughout the year that your grade level welcomes parents to the classroom.  It can be as simple as Oral Presentations or the like. The parents who want to be there will be there. At my school we do a “Collection’s Day” and a “Community Market Day” in 3rd grade. Another example is in 2nd grade they do a “Comedy Corner” and “Grandparent’s Day” performance.
  3. Are there school-wide opportunities for parents to be on campus? Most schools host some kind of event. At my school we have an Ice Cream Social, Jog-A-Thon, Family Writing Night, Information Night, Casino Night, and Carnival.  Those are just some of the events our school has to help parents feel welcome on our campus.

An example of just one of the ways we invite parents onto our campus.

This is not a blog to end celebrating achievements, but rather a way to do something different.  I still want to invite parents onto our campus and into our classroom, but I don’t want to wait until May to show them all that is going on in my classroom.  After I started tweeting I went back and looked at all I tweeted and saw how many things my students and I did throughout the year. It was like a photo journal of our year together.  I loved seeing all of the things we had accomplished together. So, let’s consider eliminating Open House. We all do so much. Eliminating one thing from our plate is important.  Making parents feel connected all year long as compared to one night in the spring is a much better way to build community and have parents feel a part of their child’s education.


5 comments:

  1. Well said Sheila Schue! Love showcasing what our students do ALL year long not just one night. Also love how I'm now following other teachers in our own district and sharing ideas. Great post!

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  2. Schue, your AMAZING!!! Thanks for taking the time to write this, Twitter has been a great way for parents to get that sneak peek in and see what is the "awesomeness". I love seeing the "awesomeness" of other teachers, it is so inspiring!

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  4. Excellent blog post. Have you ever seen the film Most Likely to Succeed? I love how they turned open house into a showcase of collaboration and student success.

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  5. Great thoughts on rethinking how we do "school," using twitter to share all of this open house moments but throughout the year. And if you use the new Twitter Moments tool you can create a visual timeline of all of that awesomeness. Check out this post to learn more about T Moments:
    http://afhogan.com/twitter-moments/

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