The Anthem to live by!
This summer I found myself singing along (alone in my car) to this song frequently. It is a catchy tune and while this summer had it's share of trials and tribulations, I belted out the lyrics of this song in my own tone def manner as if it were my own personal anthem. I felt like each and everyday was ripe with possibilities. The only thing that could prevent the day from achieving its full potential was me. I included the video for the song below.
Setting the Stage-
Before I get too far into the post, I am very excited about what happened in my professional career yesterday. However, I don't want to diminish other days in my life. The day I married my beautiful wife, the birth of my two daughters, and a list of other are definitely on the top of the list for Best Days in My Life! Yesterday stood out because of the powerful connection being made between a father and daughter in a colleagues class due to a technology app I shared with the teacher.
This amazing experience was the result of a simple app called Homeroom. @gethomeroom on Twitter
What made this connection possible? An app called Homeroom. It is an app I found via Twitter a couple weeks ago. I began playing around with the app after having conversations at #edcampgb with other educators, especially Michael Matera @MrMatera.
Michael and I were presenting on sharing the events of your classroom with parents and community. I talked about blogging and inviting parents into your classroom. Michael brought up using apps like Remind but preferred Celly to share out with parents. These are apps that allow teachers to send text messages to parents or students.
Remind is one way only, the teacher sends messages but parents or students cannot respond.
Celly does the same but has some added features to allow for group discussions in your class. Both are able to be archived to reflect the conversations that took place between the individuals involved.
Okay back to the use of these apps, he suggested sending conversation starters to parents such as "Ask your son/daughter about today's Ellis Island Simulation." This breaks down the lack of communication or the traditional - Parent: What did you learn or do in class today? Student: Nothing! This creates opportunities for communication.
Instagram is another example we discussed during our session. I have used Instagram in my personal life, but never saw it as a potential method of sharing out classroom happenings. Michael also suggested using Instagram to share out pictures with parents in a quick more private manner. Parents have to follow his Instagram feed in order to access images of his classroom.
Making the most of the potential possibilities!
All of these examples, along with many other apps and application of these technologies will allow you to bring your classroom to life for parents who are not able to be present with you and their son/daughter daily. They all invite parents to see what is happening and open the dialogue between parent and child. In the end these conversations strengthen the relationship between all involved.
I began this post with the app Homeroom in mind. Homeroom is a very new app just released in the beginning of October. I started to explore what the app can do by taking pictures of the cool things I was seeing in the schools I work in. I put them into my Homeroom feed, but that is where it kind of ends. I don't have students I work with on a regular basis, so I don't have a group of parents to share this app with.
I wanted to see how this app would work to do some of the things I previously discussed in the other apps. I needed to find teachers willing to give this a try. I was able to find a few willing participants in the past couple of weeks. My hope was to test the app, see how well it functioned, and give those teachers a leg up in documenting their classroom practices as well as building relationships with their families. To be honest, I didn't think there would be a significant impact on the relationship piece. This isn't in terms of the meaningful connection it would make with those who used the app and received the updates of class events. My skepticism was due to the fact that I didn't expect a lot of parents to sign up for the app. As of this post, I don't think there are a lot of parents who have signed up, but the teachers have only been doing this for a few days. I am hopeful this number will grow, and even if it isn't a large number the potential impact for those students and parents is tremendous.
The moment that made it all worth while! One of the teachers sent me an email yesterday that her students came into her class talking about the pictures she had shared via Homeroom. Some of the students parents had already shown their son/daughter the pics and started a dialogue with the student. With this I must admit I was excited to see the quick response and interaction that resulted. When I got to the school and was able to meet with the teacher, I was caught off guard by my emotional response to the story she shared.
When students began talking about their experiences at home the night before, she decided to show the rest of her class the app projected on the screen in her room. Students saw the pictures that the teacher had taken and were able to see that some parents liked and commented on the images. This is when one young lady saw who liked a picture of her. It was her dad. About a year ago her dad had moved out of state to take a job to support the family. When this young student saw that her dad had interacted with her picture, she asked- Can my dad see what I am doing in class? The teacher responded yes, at this point the student broke down. This was a connection that she had been missing in her life.
Hearing this story I was emotional- I couldn't get over the fact that a simple app allowed this dad and daughter to reconnect. Another cool part of the experience was other students began to think about other possibilities. Could my grandparents in Germany see this? They were excited to share their classroom experiences. They wanted to connect with their families.
I can't take credit for the experience this teacher, or these students had using the app. I consider this to be one of the greatest days in my professional career because I was able to witness the power a compassionate teacher can have on the lives of her students. In my new role as a Tech Integrator I am allowed to interact with more amazing teachers, talk technology, ideologies, and most importantly share amazing stories about student successes. I am so excited to be part of an amazing district with so many passionate educators.