Thanks to its partnership with publisher Eye on Education, EducationWorld is pleased to present this tip from The School Leader's Guide to Social Media, by Ronald Williamson and J. Howard Johnston. The book uses real-world examples and practical tips to show school leaders how to address both the potential benefits and common concerns presented by social media. This article provides tips for getting parents on board with social media in your school.
Parents can be tremendous advocates for 21st-century instructional approaches or formidable impediments to their use. It depends largely on how well the school conveys the fundamental principles of partnering to parents and stokes their enthusiasm with evidence of their child’s success.
Most of us know that being a kid in the 21st century is very different from our own youth, and many of us have learned the painful truth that the workplace—indeed the entire economy—operates on a global scale that can be terrifying for the unprepared. At the same time, many parents long for the simpler time of their own school years, a longing that gets expressed as a desire to “get back to the basics.” Unfortunately, those were the basics for a long-gone era, not the one in which our children live currently or the one in which they will spend their adulthood. Even relatively young parents are members of a “micro-generation” that does not fully understand the impact of digital technologies on students. They, too, are digital immigrants—perhaps from a neighboring country rather than a distant planet, but immigrants nevertheless.
Schools need to engage parents in a dialogue about the world in which their children live, the knowledge and skills required for success in the new economy, and how education must use all of the tools at its disposal to assure success for all children. Parents need to talk with their kids frequently to hear about what they are doing in school, what they are learning, and how they are learning it.
One way to facilitate that conversation is to make sure that the school models the use of social media technology in communicating with parents, sharing information about students and their work, and soliciting engagement with parents and the community through new interactive technologies— Facebook, Twitter, blogs, wikis, and web pages. Some schools even provide podcasts, video clips, webinars, and video conferencing as a way of reaching the largest possible parent audience. Of course, these are best when they are actually produced by students—a sure way of getting maximum parent involvement (Prensky, 2010, pp. 27–28).
See the graphic below and grab some ideas for parent engagement with regard to social media.
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