Guideposts to Success

Promote opportunities for parents & teachers to communicate informally prior to & after conferences to make more meaningful partnerships.

Photo of Clint Heitz
23 11

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Be sure to check out the Google Doc we started to develop this idea. In the meantime, here is my pitch video!


Update 5/31/2016

Great conversation with Hannah from ThinkSpace and my Teachers Guild coach, Ellen, via Zoom this past weekend. Working on a Journey Map to share with a sample of teachers. I'll be looking for feedback on the structure of the idea, the language in the guidepost reminders, and suggestions for more ways to make connections with parents in an authentic fashion. I especially want to make sure that it's clear that the end goal is not only to increase parent engagement in a positive manner, but also to make conferences more meaningful and effective.

I'd love comments suggesting ways to quickly communicate with parents, ideal times of the year, and suggestions on things to consider when rolling the idea out. For the prototype, I'm envisioning the idea with Remind as the mode for sending guidepost reminders out to participants.

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Updated 5/25/2016

Brief Overview: (What’s this idea about)

This idea is about creating some sort of tool, kit, or program to promote opportunities for parents and teachers to connect in an informal manner prior to and after conferences. Such a product would be low pressure, but a regular opening to invite connections in little ways, such as positive notes home, a tweet with a school hashtag, or chances to “bump into each other” at school functions with the potential to grow and include school-sponsored events created around the communications.

Overview: (What’s this idea about)

I envision creating guideposts to help teachers successfully develop relationships with parents before they get to the "too little too late" level. I say "guideposts" instead of a "map" for a reason. Guideposts imply that the path may not be the same for everyone and that there is no perfect solution. However, guideposts to help you get to your end goal!

I imagine professional development, digital reminders, an app, and/or coaching resources that provide simple, actionable tips / reminders on how to connect with parents in a meaningful way early in the term. Perhaps a Google Add-On that prompts a teacher to follow a tip or an app that sends notifications and provides details, templates, or links. In fact, maybe it's a guidebook with reproducibles that coaches, admin, or mentors can use as professional development or regular communications to promote the idea.

Tips might include things like:

  • Pick __#__ students to send a positive note home. Be specific in your praise!
  • We have __school event__ coming up. Can you attend? Is there a parent you could invite to attend?
  • Have a school social media account? Send some shout outs for your students with our school hashtag - #______.
  • Recognize a student for learning from a mistake this week. Promote a growth mindset by praising failing forward!

Potential For Impact: (Why is this an idea that promotes continued growth?)

This idea promotes growth by being non-intrusive, yet a constant reminder as to how we can connect with parents. This will build empathy, stronger support and connections, and healthier relationships between schools and families. As a result, these increased connections will make conferences more comfortable and communication easier. Ideally, this will also foster opportunities to explore alternate conference styles based on what we learn about our students and their families.

Value Prop/Pitch: (How would you pitch this to other teachers in your school? Your principal? Etc)

I see pitching this to administrators and teacher leaders as a way to subtly nudge teachers in the right direction through positive interactions. These guideposts would be non confrontational, short, and not evaluated or data-tracked. They would simply be reminders of best practices, and administrators or teacher leaders could encourage colleagues to share the positive outcomes. Of course, this sharing would improve school branding and image; however, that will be a happy side effect.

If not looking for a systemic change, this could also be pitched to teachers as a personal professional development opportunity for individuals, departments, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), or online communities. They could get their own app, guide, or join a web group.

As another option, I would be interested in reaching out to Digital Promise (http://digitalpromise.org/initiative/educator-micro-credentials/) to see if this would be of benefit to their micro-credentialing program as a resource.

How’d I get this idea off the ground?

I like the idea of gathering more teacher and parent feedback first; however, it could start as a simple web campaign to invite participants to join. This could help generate “testimonials” to share when getting the idea out there.

Or, the initial project could be pamphlets, calendars, etc. that share the idea and leave it open ended. Then participants could share ideas they used that could then be compiled into an app, second edition, etc.

How you can get the different threads started:

  • Guideposts: Gather ideas from staff, parents, admin, coaches, etc.
  • Packaging: Gather feedback on most helpful formats from teachers. Ask admin what would be easiest to use.

Metrics:

  • Usage data based on access
  • Periodic feedback on experiences after following a suggestion

Materials to get this idea off the ground:

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Updated 5/10/2016

Looking to gather ideas from folks on ideal guideposts / suggestions. I'm especially interested in the best wording to make the tips inviting, yet clear and impactful.

Also, any preferences of if it were packaged as a technological tool or a physical product that could be implemented as a district wanted? 

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I couldn't help but add two ideas...

I envision creating guideposts to help teachers successfully develop relationships with parents before they get to the "too little too late" level. I say "guideposts" instead of a "map" for a reason. Guideposts imply that the path may not be the same for everyone and that there is no perfect solution. However, guideposts to help you get to your end goal!

I imagine professional development, digital reminders, an app, and/or coaching resources that provide simple, actionable tips / reminders on how to connect with parents in a meaningful way early in the term. Perhaps a Google Add-On that prompts a teacher to follow a tip or an app that sends notifications and provides details, templates, or links. In fact, maybe it's a guidebook with reproducibles that coaches, admin, or mentors can use as professional development or regular communications to promote the idea.

Tips might include things like:

  • Pick __#__ students to send a positive note home. Be specific in your praise!
  • We have __school event__ coming up. Can you attend? Is there a parent you could invite to attend?
  • Have a school social media account? Send some shout outs for your students with our school hashtag - #______.


Feel free to help get this idea started: Guideposts to Success Planning

Evaluation results

10 evaluations so far

1. Do you love this idea?

Yes! I love this idea! - 100%

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23 comments

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Photo of Chris Good
Team

Clint, congrats on being a finalist! i am excited to see where this idea goes!

Photo of Chris Good
Team

Clint, i love the flexibility in this idea.

I wonder if we can build on that bay building in a way to save, categorize, and rate tips created by other users.

This  way if one teacher creates a very useful tip - other users can easily find and adopt it as well.

Maybe you could also add a "Tip Builder" feature that walks the user through a process of creating their own custom tip. Maybe it could be similar to the process for generating 'How Might We" questions where there are sort of three parts to each tip  - a piece that provides context for the behavior you are trying to create - or eliminate; a part that gives us perspective on the people impacted by the tip,  and a part that foster some sort of positive action. 

Photo of Clint Heitz
Team

I'm digging the "Tip Builder" idea! This is definitely a great long-term goal to make the app more interactive and able to grow.

Photo of Rod Hyde
Team

Is Remind a text messaging service that is used in the United States? We also use text messaging in the UK. I agree with Melinda that it is a good idea to use an existing service. How would you like to see your idea turn into reality?

Rod Hyde, RSA Fellowship

Photo of Clint Heitz
Team

Rod - Remind is a texting service that keeps phone numbers private, keeps a log of all texts sent and received, allows users to schedule messages, and allows group messages to be sent. Celly is another similar service, and both are free.

At this point, one idea to bring this idea into reality is to develop a kit, guide book, or program to help schools implement the idea effectively and efficiently. So, this might include a print or downloadable version that explains the how, the why, and provides a flexible implementation map. In the future, this could even grow into a stand alone app that could be signed up for by individual teachers looking to better their practices and build relationships with their parents/families.

Photo of Rod Hyde
Team

Clint

I think it is a great idea to start with a guidebook. I suppose it can be a doc or a pdf. The important thing is that you can hone your ideas and get other people's input before going to the time and expense of coding it into an app. It will still be possible to make changes to the data of the app later but it is costly to change the structure of the app.
Have you made a start with the guidebook that you could point me at. I don't find it easy to find stuff on this platform!
Rod 

Photo of Clint Heitz
Team

Rod - Unfortunately, we have not gotten to that point yet. I am currently working on the journey map and trying to generate a solid set of guideposts before developing the actual product. I'm hoping that being on summer break will help me pick up the pace a little bit. I'd like to use Publisher, but that's a pretty specific program for making the product. Or, perhaps he selection process will help connect me to designers that can make the product much better than I ever could.

Clint

Photo of Rod Hyde
Team

Clint

The problem with Publisher is that not everyone has it and so you make problems for people that would like to contribute. You can do most things with Word especially when you accept that it is just a drafting stage where you are getting all the ideas in the right order. So my suggestion is to concentrate on the content rather than the presentation at this stage.

Photo of Melinda Schermerhorn
Team

This is a great idea! Many teachers already utilize Remind in some capacity, so this would only need be an extension of this app rather than reteach a new one. I like the idea of guideposts and the flexibility given to each teacher; recognizing that each teachers' posts will be unique. The messages I send to my science parents may include something significant and relevant to science that parents may share with their children, such as a media shower or eclipse.

I used remind last year, but had one group for both parents and students. Your idea makes me think that a separate parent group would allow me to develop a unique connection that is separate from their child. I do think a beginning of the year face to face explanation with parents would be useful. At that time, teachers could help parents get their app on their phones set up. This would give parents the feeling they are instantly connected and teachers would see the sea of faces and recognize the impact they will make on simply by sending out a message; it makes the process personal.
Can't wait to hear more about this!

Photo of Clint Heitz
Team

Melinda - Thanks for your support. I completely agree with the idea of having a face-to-face event that includes help in signing up for the texting/email program as an option. It's yet another great way to make an informal connection. Plus, those who don't sign up can still be contacted via other options like email, phone, and good ol' paper notes.

Here's hoping it takes off!

Photo of Revathi Balakrishnan
Team

I am not sure if you are able to see my evaluation. Thanks for reaching out. 

Photo of Clint Heitz
Team

Thanks, Revathi!

Photo of Ellen Deutscher
Team

Clint,
Looking forward to hearing how it went when you shared with teachers at your school.
Awesome conversation with team over weekend.  Hannah, thank you for sharing the great  prototyping tools!

Photo of Ellen Deutscher
Team

The graphic looks great!  I'm having a senior moment.  I thought I sent you a message to see if you want to hop on a gho with the 2 of us sooner than later (now I can't find it)?  I could do tonight (although it will likely be too late your time) or tomorrow?  What do you think?

Photo of Clint Heitz
Team

Sure thing! I just resent the email to you, Emma, and Hannah.

Photo of Ellen Deutscher
Team

Clint,
I love this idea!  The idea of not getting to the point of "too little too late" is so key.  The simplicity of reminders feels like a refreshing way to get small pushes to reach out to parents more regularly.  Please keep building on this idea.  Let me know if I can help!! :) 

Photo of Clint Heitz
Team

I'd be glad to hear ideas on modes of providing the reminders and suggestions as to how to present them in a friendly manner - especially if this is rolled out by coaches or admin first.

Photo of Ellen Deutscher
Team

I love that you are thinking about this!!  This could be a great opportunity to do a deeper dive into discover/empathy.   It would be awesome if you could talk to some teachers in your community about how they feel about it and even prototype/test some of these ideas.  I'm happy to help you with this process.  Do you want to start a google doc to start blasting out some ideas?

Photo of Clint Heitz
Team

I've started a doc and linked them on both ideas. Feel free to jump in anywhere you see fit!

Photo of Ellen Deutscher
Team

Great!  Have you had a chance to throw this idea around with any teachers. Or maybe try it with a text or two? 

Photo of Clint Heitz
Team

Honestly, I have not had the guts to bring it up yet. There has been a lot of negativity floating around since our last conference night. However, I really need to just bite the bullet and start the conversation. They're never going to hear it if I never bother to bring it up...

I will also have a chance to try some of this when I mentor new teachers next year if the mentees are receptive to the idea. However, I'd rather not wait that long.

Photo of Donna Teuber
Team

Hi Clint! Reminders are so important! This reminds me of Google Now and how it automatically tells me things that I should know about based on my location, time of day, etc. I always laugh when it tells me how long it takes to get to my mother's house on the day that I always go! I would love to see this idea prototyped!

Photo of Clint Heitz
Team

Exactly! I get the same thing popping up when I go home from work every day (it's always 18 minutes). I'd be very intrigued to develop different ways to apply the reminders, both digitally and traditionally.