After the success of last night’s online meeting with parents, my line manager, Greg (@greghodgson) asked me to consider how we (CCC) should move forward with this process. He asked me two questions: 1. How do we push this out across all departments? 2. How do we convince a majority of parents to access it?
Below is my initial response to these questions:
1. How do we push this out across all departments?
So far only English, Media Studies, Maths and Science have delivered online meetings with parents. To get more departments involved I think we need to make the value of the meetings as clear as possible. They offer improved (mass) communication with parents. The parents feel more informed and they really like that they did not have to come all the way to school. Students benefit from improved support from home.
A simple and engaging document that explains the methodology and pedagogy behind the meetings needs to be made available. It is imperative that we market the meetings in the right way therefore I would include quotes from parents giving positive feedback. This could be handed out in either a staff meeting or in a CPD session. Alongside the document we must capture their interest by allowing them to view a meeting – either a recording or ideally to join in with a live event to get a realistic understanding of how they work.
(We could perhaps be more direct; making it a requirement for all departments to complete at least one online meeting with parents during the next academic year. However, I feel that the quality of the meetings would suffer if this is forced upon departments/teachers.)
2. How do we convince a majority of parents to access it?
The number of parents joining the meetings has been encouraging but moderate. We would like a majority to attend. I personally feel that we need to get better at utilising parent power. (A satisfied customer is the strongest advocate you can have.) We need to get a few of the parents who have attended the meetings to make contact with other parents and share their experiences. Also, we could get the PTA involved in helping to promote them.
We need one brand (maybe a postcard) that can be used for all meetings of this kind that can be quickly and easily produced. I know e-mail works but I do wonder how many parents either did not read the e-mail or read it and forgot about it. Some times paper still is the best way. We also need to get parents past the fear of it being online (and we need to get teachers past this fear to). Accessing email, clicking on links is daunting for some parents and teachers.
One good question leads to another:
As usual when asked a series of questions I always come back with many more. Here are a few:
- Is this the solution to improving all parental contact?
- Could parents evenings be done this way? What would the implications be if they were?
- Are these meetings for mass communication only, leaving 1-2-1 communication to remain in the domain of parents evenings, telephone conversations and email?
- Should tutors be making use of it to introduce themselves to parents at the start of the year?
- Is Adobe Connect the best solution for us / for the parents? What about Skype or other web based communication systems?
Image courtesy of yago1.com on Flickr.