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Finding Common Ground

A former K-5 public school principal turned author, presenter, and leadership coach, DeWitt provides insights and advice for education leaders. He can be found at www.petermdewitt.com. Read more from this blog.

Education Opinion

Want to Flip Communication? Click Here

By Peter DeWitt — September 19, 2013 3 min read
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Flipping communication isn’t about replacing anything...it’s about enhancing it.

Parents cannot always make it to the PTA meetings or night events. Some of them work... Others cannot get child care or have hardships going on that prevent them from making it to some school events. They make it to their child’s performances, but they have to pick and choose what they can attend.

In our present time of accountability, educators make mistakes from time to time by treating all parents like they are teachers...they’re not. Teachers are now considered the “Teacher of Record” in many states so they feel as though they need to dictate to parents what their children should be doing at night. So....due to this “increase in rigor” (notice sarcasm) when parents come to meetings now, they are more academic than in previous years.

For that reason, parents need “think time.” They need to know some of the educator lingo before they get to a meeting so they can ask clarification questions...or just keep up with the conversation. Please understand, I’m not judging anyone. I need the same thing. I hate attending meetings where I am hearing something for the first time because I cannot always react immediately. I need time to reflect and process the information.

For that reason....I flip communication to parents and staff.

How Do We Flip?
For me, flipping communication began a year ago. Since then I have written about it several times. Read those blogs here...and here. Over time, I have tried different formats. Not because I’m a techno-whiz because I’m not. I changed formats because of money and formatting issues.

I began my flipping experience by using Screenr. Before I recorded a Screenr video, I would create a Prezi presentation and then write a script. I’d click on Screenr, the box would appear around my Prezi, and I would begin the recording.

The problem....

I would say something that would throw me off and I would have to complete take after take after take. Then...20 seconds before finishing the phone would ring! There was no way to pause.

Lastly, Screenr did an automatic payment (yes, they had my credit card information from the first year purchase) and I was charged $190.00 for a second year, even though I was not planning on using it again. Screenr didn’t send an e-mail (many companies like Go Daddy send you an e-mail a month before charging you) stating that my account would be charged...tomorrow or next month. They sent it after the payment and said “no refunds.”

A few years ago I bought the first iPad. Ok, it wasn’t the very first iPad or I would be selling that on e-Bay! Over the years I was envious of newer iPads with cameras and microphones. And then Curt Rees (awesome principal in Wisconsin), Erin Simpson (a fantastic principal in Ohio) and I were Tweeting back and forth and Curt mentioned Touchcast.

Touchcast is only available on iPad so I took that as a sign from the Heavens that I needed to purchase the iPad 3 and I have never looked back. Touchcast is not only awesome, it’s user-friendly. You can pause during recording which means you do not have to start over and over again.

I flipped an Opening Day message for parents the week before school began. You can watch it here.

I flipped some district communication.

And I flipped an announcement for the School Administrators Association of New York State.

Yes, I know I say “Hello everyone” in each video. It seems so much more appropriate than “Ta Da!”

Touchcast is awesome. Click here for an informational video about it. I saved that link for last because it is much more professional than anything I did. However, it’s easy to use. You can download pictures, videos, music and links. You can even download your Twitter page and it records in real time so whenever someone watches it, they are seeing your live Twitter page.

If you have an iPad with a camera and want to flip communication, download Touchcast. And no, I’m not getting a kickback.

Naysayers Beware
Flipping communication is not the end-all-to-be-all. It is not meant to replace other forms of communication. Just because leaders flip communication to parents doesn’t mean they are great communicators. As much fun as shooting a video may be, it’s the conversation it initiates that is the fun part.

Flipping communication can keep parents in the loop, and help make parents who can’t get to school events feel more involved in the school community. I know that many critics believe that it is a passing fad or that we are trying to create the new Khan Academy. We aren’t. Flipping communication isn’t about replacing anything...it’s about enhancing it.

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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.