Tech Be Nimble
Last year around this time, I wrote a series of posts related to technology for teachers, students, and parents. This year, a seemingly relevant headline appeared in my news feed, tempting me to revisit the topic. Nicholas Provenzano at Edutopia writes, "Parents and teachers should be working together to ensure student success. And the best way to increase parent engagement is through strong communication." He goes on to list a variety of ways teachers can elicit parent engagement: email, texting, a website, and video chat.
Now, maybe it's the cynic in me. Or maybe it's the high school teacher perspective I bring to this reading. But I'm left with two thoughts: 1) What about those parents who don't have email/a steady cell phone number/home Internet/a web cam? and 2) Why are we so worried about parent engagement when we still haven't figured out student engagement?
The digital divide is very real. We are doing a better job of acknowledging its impact on students, but we'd do well to remember that it affects our relationships with their parents as well. In fact, Suzie Boss, also writing for Edutopia, has some excellent perspectives on why parent education -- even more than parent engagement -- is the central issue. And I don't mean to diminish the impact of parent engagement, but I do worry that "lack of parent engagement" is too often used as an excuse for ignoring the real clients who will walk through classroom doors tomorrow morning. Instead of finding exciting new ways to reach OUT to parents, let's focus first on increasing the skills, confidence, and self-efficacy of the students themselves. Then, let's bring parents along in a meaningful, lasting way: through ongoing education, empowerment, and relationship-building.
Needs change. Technology changes. The best educational technology stays nimble.