My school had its official open house last week. This anticipated annual event invites parents to visit the school for to take a look at what’s happening in the classroom. This is not a time for parent conferences but an opportunity for parents to visit the school, meet teachers and get a glimpse of classroom happenings. It’s a busy night. Students often become tour guides and they lead their parents through the classroom that they’re in throughout the day. Parents often look forward to this night as they can see their child’s work. Each teacher puts their own spin on the night. Some grade levels work together and have the same theme or activity while other teachers have a school scavenger hunt.
For teachers, it can be a whirlwind of a night. Setting up activities, organizing work and finding ways to hang up student work is usually all part of this night. The focus is on showcasing student work.
I believe having an open house night is one way to help build the community and school connection. It’s beneficial although I always leave these nights with questions of how to make this connection better.
For the majority of parents this is one of the few times that they’re able to walk the halls of the school and actually see student work from multiple classrooms. I believe that these types of open house nights strengthening the school and community connection. Parents leave the night with a better understanding of what their child is doing in school. While meeting with parents I overheard a few conversations. I heard parents making positive comments of what their child is doing in particular classrooms. This is all good news but I wonder if there’s a better way to improve this connection. While thinking of this I started to put together an informal list of what some teachers are doing to address this.
There are a few teachers at my school that use social media to improve this connection. I know of three teachers that have their own classroom Twitter handle. They Tweet out pictures,activities and/or projects that students complete. A few teachers at my school also use student digital portfolios to showcase student work. Parents are able to view student work and comment on their child’s work through this platform. From what I hear and see, parents in these classrooms seem to have a better understanding of what’s happening in those classrooms. All teachers send out classroom newsletters twice a month. The letters are often used as a general curriculum communication tool. I believe in a balanced approach to building the connections between schools and the community. It’s obvious that teachers aren’t able to showcase everything that’s happening in their classrooms, but what’s happening shouldn’t necessarily be hidden either.
Let me know what you think. How do you strengthen the school and community partnership?