I am sure Mrs. Renaud would have stumbled upon Twitter on her own in short time. In fact I am pretty sure she had an account and maybe just wasn’t using it yet. I am not going to take credit where it is not due, ie. it was not I that made her “Tweet”. After all she is correct in saying that it “is fast becoming an indispensable tool in the world of education.” So as the Eastwood Parent Involvement Committee Chair person I expected her, sooner or later, to engage with the various accounts that our school had to offer. Why then aren’t all parents grabbing this same opportunity, this chance, to keep their ears on the tracks and their eyes on the horizon while their children fly by on the high velocity train we are calling the education system today. That is to say that many schools are catching that train. Others may be slow off the platform while still others are sitting at the station waiting for the bus. Nevertheless, the realm of social media and content creation in my context is a realm of learning, connecting, creating and collaborating for all learners.
This image, pulled from twitter just this evening in fact, states a powerful message about harnessing the power inherent in the technology of today. Try inserting Parents or Principals in place of Teachers!
It wasn’t long into the school year that Mrs. Renaud began recognizing the power of the twitter-verse. She soon started sending tweets about her learning as a parent. Her son and his classmates interacted with her. She shared these experiences with other parents. Shortly after that Stephanie discovered #ptchat (parent/teacher chat). She attended EdCampSWO on April 6, 2014 and now is looking to start her own twitter groups to help other parents learn alongside their children. Below is a culmination of all these experiences in the form of an article that she wrote for a regional publication highlighting the power that social media, specifically twitter, can have on the relationships between parents, students and school. Please read this guest post by Mrs. Renaud and then feel free to send her a tweet and let her know what great work she is doing as a learning parent!
It’s Sweet To Tweet! A Guide to Twitter for Parents
Twitter is fast becoming an indispensable tool in the world of education. Schools and their teachers are jumping on the bandwagon by the dozen.
If you are not a Twitter user already, I am sure you have heard of it. It is very simple to create an account. All you need is an email address. You are in complete control of what you follow, so it is easy to customize your feed to your interests and likes, much like Facebook. A quick search of the Greater Essex County District School Board site reveals that many, if not most schools have an account that you can follow, as well as individual teachers, classes, school organizations and administrators.
I contend that, as parents, we would be well placed to be jumping on the band wagon as well. Here’s why.
Reasons why is it sweet to tweet as a parent.
#1 Connect with other parents.
Community is a powerful thing. In a time when so many of us are part of dual parent working families, we barely have time to kiss our kids goodnight when we tuck them in, to say nothing of building relationships within our community. Yet these connections are what makes life meaningful. These connections help us to understand that we are not alone, that there are others out there who have the same joys and struggles we do. In the same way that Facebook allows us to efficiently and conveniently connect with our friends and loved ones about our lives, twitter can help us connect to our children, our community and our schools in convenient, manageable ways.
#2 Up to the moment info on what your kid is doing at school.
How many of us ask our kids what they did at school today? I am willing to wager all of us. How often is the answer “oh, nothing.” Ugh! I am trying to be interested here! Twitter offers you the opportunity to be tuned in to what your kids are doing on a day-to-day basis so you can ask questions that are much more specific. The more specific you are, the more interested you sound, and the more likely you are to get a meaningful response. When our kids feel like we are interested in their learning, their learning becomes just that much more engaging for them. Who knows? We might just learn something new ourselves.
#3 Tweeting saves trees.
How much paper comes home in your kids’ school bags? If they are anything like mine, it’s at least a small forest per week. In an effort to reduce the paper waste in schools, many of them post updates and information on Twitter. Trouble is, not enough parents are active on the interface to substantially reduce the need for paper communication. Become active, it can reduce waste.
#4 A place to ask questions and get answers from people who know.
As parents with children in school we often have questions and concerns about what happens at school with our kids. Tweeting these questions and concerns allows us the opportunity to connect not only with other parents who may be wondering the same thing, but also with professionals both in our school community and in the larger global community who can give us answers, feedback and next steps. Without leaving our kitchen table.
#5 A safe place to air general concerns and share ideas.
Who has time to go another meeting? So often our concerns and ideas are shelved due to sheer lack of time to set the meeting, to address or share them. Let alone attend that meeting and be present enough to make it meaningful. Tweet it. Instantly your concern is communicated to the relevant people, be it your administrator, your child’s classroom teacher or the parent involvement committee for your school or region. To make it even better? The responses are delivered right to your mobile device, be it iPhone, iPad or laptop. Did you have an idea to share? A new way to approach a problem that you see with how your school operates? Tweet it! Ideas are powerful things, and are better when shared.
#6 Does your child have special needs? Reach out to others who walk the same path.
With the rise of ADHD, autism and other developmental and behavioural diagnosis in children it has become more important than ever that we connect with other parents who do the same job we do. Sharing ideas, questions, and struggles is a great way to help our own parenting strategies evolve and improve. As a special needs parent, the more tools I have, the more effective I can be.
#7 Great way to stayed connected as a working parent
Let’s face it, we are all way too busy. Being more involved in our children’s education is something many, if not most of us want to do that we just feel we don’t have the time for. The emergence of social media as a tool makes being involved as easy as checking your twitter feed. It only takes a few minutes, and instantly you are more informed, more involved. Like my mom always told me, knowledge is power.
#8 Knowledge is power.
The more information we have as parents about how and what our children are learning, the more we can support and extend the learning beyond the classroom. Research is clear on this point. The more education is extended beyond the four walls of the classroom, the more meaningful and long-lasting it becomes. How powerful is that?
As parents of increasingly technologically capable young people it behooves us to join the digital movement. With awareness and involvement in the digital world we have the ability to guide and safeguard our children in the new digital frontier, and join with our schools in facilitating the development of our students as global citizens with media savvy.
Every school in the #GECDSB has a website. I encourage you to look up your schools website where they will no doubt have multiple twitter accounts listed.
If you are still not feeling too confident that you can set up your own account and get tweeting, check out these links which lead you to some nice, simple How-To guides to get you started.
Tweet, engage, empower. It’s that simple.
Special thanks for this post goes to Stephanie Renaud, Eastwood Parent Involvement Committee Chair