One of the more recent developments in my teaching praxis is a more aggressive stance to keeping parents informed. I send weekly reports summarizing what has happened in the class and suggesting ways parents might get involved. I’ve also started posting on each class website the due dates of major assignments and assessments as they get announced.
In the past I have done this through the class website and mass e-mails. Lately, I’ve experimented with the application of Google Plus for this. Here’s what I like about it:
- Its privacy controls allow me to send missives to parents exclusively while walling off material and posts that aren’t relevant to them
- Parents who aren’t signed into Google Plus automatically get the same updates through e-mail instead
- Parents can easily respond, comment, or question directly to an update
The only disadvantage thus far has been an initial confusion in some parents—and the fact that social media is frequently blocked entirely by the school’s firewall. I’m not able to give access to the Google Plus updates I’ve posted, but I also concurrently re-post those updates onto class websites (which have RSS feeds):
I’ve reprinted one here below. It comes from my 8th grade class, early on in the year:
This past week we had our first grammar quiz on coordinating conjunctions. We also began _The Alchemist_, analyzing the first pages of the novel and then reading it at a fairly steady clip. It’s a short book, and I think we’re scheduled to read it in its entirety by the end of next week.
After each night’s reading I provide a handout of details they should have noted, particularly the religious and Jungian symbols that belie Coelho’s syncretistic worldview. _The Alchemist_ is a book about one’s life purpose and ambition, and it provides good fodder for discussing one’s general beliefs and philosophy. You might find that you’re child might be curious about your own life’s journey–how you came to the successes you’ve had or overcome the obstacles you faced and what were the life lessons or principles you’ve learned along the way. One of my goals in this book is to have students think critically about the many oracular pronouncements made by the book and consider how it jibes with their own beliefs.
Heads up: Our second *vocabulary quiz* will be on *Wednesday, October 26*–it will be identical in format to the first. (You might want to check if your child has even cracked open their vocabulary book this weekend). The following week we’ll have our unit test on _The Alchemist_.