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Finding Common Ground

A former K-5 public school principal turned author, presenter, and leadership coach, Peter DeWitt provides insights and advice for education leaders. Former superintendent Michael Nelson is a frequent contributor. Read more from this blog.

Education Opinion

Flipping Parent Communication?

By Peter DeWitt — September 12, 2012 3 min read
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Too often we leave our communication to monthly newsletters or school wide e-mails. There are many changes happening in education, so flipping the communication I have with parents offered me an opportunity to let them know what is going on.”

The flipped classroom model has been all the rage in schools. Teachers use it to create a more engaging classroom experience for their students. Some administrators have followed suit, or taken the lead, and flipped their faculty meetings (Flipped Faculty Meetings) to create a more engaging experience for their teachers.

Too often classrooms are filled with lectures and faculty meetings have been filled with trivial items to check off a list. The flipped model allows for a little innovation. Lectures can be viewed at home and more authentic conversations take place in the classroom. It allows for students and teachers to view the lecture as many times as they like and take notes to ask when they enter the classroom.

Flipped faculty meetings offer a webinar-type opportunity for staff. When teachers come together for a faculty meeting they can work in groups or as a whole staff. They can discuss ideas or important educational initiatives. The possibilities are endless when it comes to flipping.

Flipping Parent Communication?
After flipping our faculty meeting once, I decided to flip some of the communication I have with parents. It’s hard for parents to attend PTA meetings, especially if they are working. Too often we leave our communication to monthly newsletters or school wide e-mails. There are many changes happening in education, so flipping the communication I have with parents offered me an opportunity to let them know what is going on.

Recently, in preparation for our two Open Houses we hold over two evenings I decided to send parents a Power Point that focused on some of the important things they needed to know about the school year (i.e. parking, busses, PTA, and character education). Using Screenr I recorded myself talking through the Power Point, which included a couple of flipped pictures, and explained that I was flipping some communication.

After I sent the link to parents I received a great deal of positive feedback and began to reflect on how I can include the flip model in other parent communication. The following is the list:

PTA - prior to PTA meetings I can send out info for the meeting and some topics we can cover. If parents can’t make the meeting, they will at least be informed of what took place.
Special events - in preparation for school events I can do the flipped model and explain why we are doing what we are doing. Whether it’s our annual “No Testing Week,” Grandparents and Special Person’s Day or No Name Calling Week, a quick 5 minute video can keep them engaged in the school community.
State assessments - sometimes parents do not understand the importance of getting their children to school on time or the length of the exam. Flipping a presentation and sending them an explanation of how long the exam takes in both minutes and number of days, will be a way to keep them informed.
Any Educational Issue - The reality is that parents need to know what is happening in education. Whether it’s a simple tutorial on the Common Core State Standards or new legislation like the Dignity for All Students Act in New York State, The FAIR Education Act in California, or why we use Smartboards in the classroom.

In the End

We have so many ways to communicate with parents. We do it when we talk, e-mail or write newsletters. Every communication we have is important because we represent our school and district through our actions and words. Parents deserve to see the tools/resources that we use with their children, so working them in to our communication with parents is the best way to do that. Flipping parent communication is just one example of how we can share one of our instructional practices.

Flipping communication with parents is not meant to take the place of other forms of communication, just enhance the tools already in use. Parents are busy and they can’t always make the meetings we hold at school but it doesn’t mean they don’t want to be a part of the school community. Try flipping some parent communication and see how many parents respond.

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The opinions expressed in Peter DeWitt’s Finding Common Ground are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.