Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Center of Learning - Parent Connection! (Part 1: Twitter Workshop)

This past Wednesday night we had our monthly PTO meeting.  It was a bit different from most of our meetings.  We have been discussing how to increase attendance at the meetings because often it is simply the PTO board, myself, and a few other parents who attend.  During a brainstorming session we talked about the idea of the principal providing an educational experience for parents, in order to make it a more interactive and positive experience.

You see, just as faculty meetings can become "verbal memos," so can Parent Teacher Organization meetings!  I have started to flip my faculty meetings by putting out all announcements and minutia in a weekly staff newsletter and using the faculty meeting for professional learning of some sort.  As I explained this to our PTO president, it became clear that we could do something similar with our PTO meetings.
Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

We decided to try a couple of things in this month's meeting.  First, I held a "pre-workshop" for parents before the PTO meeting.  This was just a 30 minute workshop to get parents involved in doing something rather than sitting and just receiving committee reports.  Since our school has a Twitter feed (@BearTavernES) and I am always trying to increase our following, it seemed logical to give a brief workshop on parental use of Twitter.

I was very clear that this was not a workshop about protecting your children online and safeguarding accounts (that is fodder for a different workshop).  This was a brief introduction to using Twitter that basically started with creating your own account!  Here is the blurb from the flyer that we put out prior to the workshop:

*Come early (6:30 PM) for Mr. Arcurio’s Twitter Workshop - Mr. Arcurio will give a workshop on the use of Twitter and the benefits to parents.  Those who attend will have the opportunity to set up a free account and start following Bear Tavern and others of interest.  Most of us think that Twitter is a frivolous waste of time when we first hear about or even try it, but with the right direction it can be a great source of information on education, parenting, schools, and any other topic in which you have an interest.  Additionally, for those who do not wish to start an account there will instruction on how to keep up with HVRSD twitter feeds without having an account.
 At 6:25 I was worried because I only had one parent sitting in the computer lab at school; however, by 6:30 I had 5 parents and then by 6:40 I had 12 parents.  Since these parents were not our typical group of meeting attendees, we already accomplished a goal.  The workshop was very basic.  I helped participants create an account and then I began to show them how to search for interests.  I provided them with several twitter handles from which I felt they would benefit.  These included:
We also went through how to look at the posts of someone you may want to follow and discern whether they are an appropriate follow for your needs. Additionally, I showed them how to search through someone's followers to find other appropriate matches.  I also exposed them to the idea of Twitter Chats by showing them the hashtag #PTchat (Parent Teacher Chat) The parents were receptive and very interested in this tool.
Some parents did not create an account and watched as others did.  I handed out a two resources for everyone to take with them: How to Sign Up for Twitter and A Parent's Guide to Twitter and Education.

Although brief, I feel that the workshop was successful in both providing an educational experience for the parents and helping to boost PTO meeting attendance (they all stayed for the meeting). It was on this evening that I truly began to see the power of something I have been thinking for a while and articulated at this meeting,

"I want Bear Tavern to be the center of learning for the whole community."
In part two of this post, I will discuss the article study that we conducted at the end of the meeting.  By the way, we had approximately 30 parents at the meeting and most of them stayed for the article study!
Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. Love! But why limit it to the "principal" educating? Teachers, parents and students are also be a great source of info and ideas.

  2. I agree, I would like to move toward others facilitating learning. Our thoughts for the start were that I model teaching and learning and hopefully as these types of monthly offerings become commonplace others will be willing to facilitate. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experience. I've briefly introduced Twitter to our staff but had not thought about our parents. We are planning on having some parent tech nights in our district and Twitter could and probably should be one of the components. This was very helpful! :)

  4. Laura,

    I am finding that it is slow on both fronts. I now have some teachers who are lurking after introducing it to them; mainly to see the school twitter feed that I update. (Those who are on twitter let those who are not know if something from their class has been tweeted.) I am confident that it will spread, but I am also patient. I know how long it took to move from a paper daily bulletin 10 years ago to a completely electronic one. With parents, I am working to find a way to make Twitter an indispensable tool for them without removing other forms of communication. I haven't completely figured it out yet, but I am working on it. Thank you for your comment and good luck with your work in this area.