Paula had a great point in the planning document. I'd like to develop the idea more to include how we can transfer the effect of these events and ideas to the parent/teacher conferences. That might be in the form of letting parent, teacher, and student come up with their best conference format. Or, perhaps conferences themselves are built into an existing event (i.e. over a cup of coffee, during student showcases, etc.).
I think the heart of the idea is right on target of building relationships, being proactive, and creating a comfortable environment; however, I'd like the make the connection more overt. How do we take this from what it is to showing how it transfers directly to the conference night?
Gathering lots of great ideas from folks here! I liked the idea of using EventBrite as a way to organize who is coming to what event. Are there other tools that work well?
How do we handle costs and teacher time? How might we approach local businesses for support (i.e. grocery stores for "bakerspaces" materials, restaurants for "Tapas and Talk", etc)? How do we overcome contract issues?
Be sure to check out the Google Doc we've started to get this idea going!
During the Teacher's Guild Fireside Chat, Erica mentioned a school program that invited parents to a walking club to promote exercise and safety; however, that experienced evolved into a great way to connect with parents and teachers in a social setting. This lucky side-effect made relationships long before the high-stakes conferences and open houses.
My idea is to develop opportunities, a wide variety of them, to invite student families (siblings included) to come to the school for informal activities events. These low-stakes, high interest opportunities would help to learn student and family interests, share the human side of the teachers and administration, and build a bridge between school and home. Sure, some might say it is "more work" or "not in their contract," but our main goal is to promote the positive. If you can get it started and show success, more will come!
Here are some possible events / opportunities (which may even double as community services):
- Walking Club (Thanks, Erica! Great place to start!)
- Open gym time to come in and play basketball, volleyball, badminton, etc.
- Ice Cream Socials right as school is released for the day (or a Soup Social in the winter)
- Book Club
- Open computer lab time for families without access to use a lab or two
- In connection to this, offer small courses on online safety, social media, or how to apply for jobs
- Google Hangouts for meetings, check-ins, etc. Google Hangout conference option. (Got this idea from Paula Marra's post!)
- Study nights during which parents and students can come in for help (what better way to help parents feel empowered)
- Student Showcases just to show off projects, work, ideas, etc.
- Coffee events at pick-up and/or drop-off times? Convenient for parents and simple. Community donations? (Thanks for the idea, Cynthia!)
- Open Makerspace Nights! Get use out of those awesome makerspaces by allowing families to tinker together
Feel free to help start planning here: Open the Door to More Planning