Guideposts to Success

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

Photo of Clint Heitz
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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

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

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