Parent Navigation

Create a travel guide about your school for parents, host an excursion with parents shadowing a student, and have a student/parent showcase.

Photo of Theresa Shadrix
8 23

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Imagine that you have seen video, pictures, and reviews of a country, but have yet to visit it in person. You gather all the essential items, including your nerves, and finally make a trip. On arrival, you are not greeted with hospitality by the locals and the language spoken is foreign to you. As you navigate around the country, you are constantly driven off course by obstacles and find yourself frequently lost. 

This is what visiting a school is like for many parents. 

We make assumptions that parents understand the world of education because we post announcements on the school website, or send an email. What we often lack is hospitality and don't invite parents into our space and help them navigating the territory. 

A solution is for a school to create a travel guide about school for parents, host an excursion day with parents shadowing a student, and then select a night that students and parents can showcase a project that was completed together.

*A good resource is the Shadow A Student Challenge, which is Feb. 25-March 8, 2019.


I created a "Welcome" bumper for a video using Adobe Photoshop and After Effects. You can download the video, as well as the Welcome text, here:

Use the text and put a Google map of your school in the background. You can layer it using Photoshop or

Share research or student experiences that informed your idea!

Last year, my students completed challenges about problems they wanted to find solutions for in the school. Hallway navigation was a regular gripe from students. In working on their challenge, we had frequent conversations about how parents also seemed lost in the physical sense when visiting the school, but also in not understanding what was going on and what it's like to be a student today. This helped form the idea of engaging students and parents together in a school setting.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Alysha English

Theresa Shadrix Hey Theresa!! I LOVE the idea of using Shadow a Student as an opportunity for both families and parents to better understand the student experience. I also appreciate that you shared a resource with the community that might be useful for others. Thank YOU! With the hallway challenge you mentioned, did you end up bringing together families and students to help design around this? I'm curious how you played with the physical space to help both families and students better navigate the school. Thank you so much for your contribution!

Photo of Theresa Shadrix

Hi Alysha English , When we hosted the student's "Ignite Session" sharing their ideas, there were no administration we invited who attended. So, it was difficult for them to have buy in from decision-makers on their ideas and their plan. They did focus on students, but parents would have benefitted as well. One of the aspects they included in the prototype was interactive panels in certain areas of the school that included a map, videos about the school and events, ways to have the information sent via text, and create a historical museum space in the school. I'll go back through my notes and see what other ideas they had.

Photo of Nidhi

This is a great way to enable parents to understand how the school is providing for and supporting their child!! This can be so important as school changes from what parents experienced as students, and can engage parents as allies. In what ways have you been able to incorporate educating parents about the value of these types of school changes so that when they do shadow a student they can understand the value of certain aspects of their child's day that they experience? Theresa Shadrix 

Photo of Jessica Lura

 Love the connection to shadow a student. I wonder if there is some way to connect your idea with Jill's Welcome to Our World where the students are making videos about what it means to be a learner at their school.

Photo of Molly McMahon

Theresa! So excited see you back pace setting in The Guild! Hope 2019 is off to a great start! Can't wait to hear about your new district!

Photo of Theresa Shadrix

I'm very excited to be here in this space to share and collaborate!

Photo of Rosemary Vargas

This is amazingly accurate! As a parent, I feel that most public schools don’t make you feel welcomed. And yes! Times have changed so much! It is so important for us, as parents, to have the opportunity to see first hand what is happening in schools today, what is expected, how things should be done. A lot has changed since I was in elementary school and I would definitely benefit from being introduced to the new curriculum. We need our scholars teachers to help us help them! It takes a team!!!

Photo of Theresa Shadrix

So much has changed in schools and I don't think parents can get a whole picture if they are not somehow using the space. Also, there are parents who did not experience the same educational setting. So, we have to stop assuming they understand all the dynamics of what it is like being a student today. I would be very lost if I was not an educator because I know who to go to for answers and have an understanding of the environment and school culture.