“One good thing about music when it hits you feel no pain.” The words from Bob Marley’s Trenchtown Rock floated through the air as parents began filtering into our classroom for open house. It immediately set a tone of relaxation and calmness for parents. Whispers started amongst them and my initial hook was set. One of the most important nights of the year is Open School Night. Meeting new parents during the first few weeks of school is tremendously exciting because it’s an opportunity to develop relationships and partnerships.
I’m consistently reflecting about how I can improve my practice, as well as ensure I am meeting the needs of all the varied learning styles in my classroom. This thought process led me to also reflect upon how I can continue to improve with my communication and engagement with parents. I continue to use my classroom website, parent codes using Edmodo, Instagram, Twitter, and Seesaw, and Remind, to name a few. The feedback has been fantastic from parents and families because it truly gives them an unprecedented view into our classroom and builds the home/school connection. Purposeful technology infused with a high touch approach can create opportunities to develop strong and meaningful connections. Under this premise, I decided to try something new this year at open house. I had parents participate in a QR Code “scavenger hunt.”
QR Codes at Open House:
The first step is having a growth mindset and taking a risk. This is opposite of what parents have probably experienced in 98% of their open house nights. It’s a risk, but one worth taking. I then decided what my four stations would focus on.
Station 1: Love of Literacy
Station 2: Parent Engagement
Station 3: Grading and Homework
Station 4: Curriculum and Testing
I used the Scanlife QR code app, but there are tons available on the app store or google play. I pasted the links to the shared, view only, google docs and pasted them into qrcodestuff.com and printed them out. I hung them around the classroom to ensure parents had space to read the documents on our iPads without being cluttered.
I gave a quick demonstration of how to use the app and off they went. Parents immediately embraced this idea and got the moving around instead of just sitting. This freed me up to navigate around the classroom to answer any questions they had along the way. Sure, could I have used Today’s Meet or Padlet for parents to backchannel on? Yes, but I did not want to overwhelm them with too much technology at once. The vibe was electric and parents truly appreciated the different approach.
Another benefit to this type of approach is parents experienced making transitions, similar to the ones their child will be expected to make during our literacy workshop block and how their child is engaged on a daily basis in creative ways. The time spent at each station gave parents and opportunity to develop relationships with each other, too. After all parents have participated in each station, we reconvened in a whole group setting and had a reflection period about what they learned and answered questions.
I will follow-up this night with a parent survey, using google forms, to continue to build that rapport with parents and ensure their voices are heard and addressed. This survey will provide me with more feedback to reflect on my own thinking. I will also be giving parents a voice as to how they would like our “Tech Night” to look. Parents need assistance and support in this ever changing world of technology, so hosting a tech night is a non-negotiable. Empowering parents and making them stakeholders in their child’s education is not a choice, it’s a priority. It takes a team to move mountains and having the open dialogue and providing a support system at school and home will do nothing but serve their child’s best interest.
I am a passionate teacher in Stamford, CT. I teach fifth grade ELA/Social Studies. I am proud to be an active member of the Twitter educational community. I am an organizer for #EdCampSWCT, a moderator for #ctedu, technology professional develop leader in my district, and a believer in a high tech/high touch blended learning approach to teaching. I am nominated for the Bammy of 2015 Elementary School Teacher of the Year. I am a certified administrator. I believe in taking risks and working collaboratively to augment student achievement. I love children’s literature and strive to become better everyday. I am a husband and father. Follow me on Twitter @mrsapia_teach