Month: January 2017

Why Schools Should Use Social Media to Reach Millennial Parents

One of the characteristics of millennial parents is that they want to have ready access to information. Grades, attendance, upcoming events, announcements, celebrations, etc.

According to a Pew Research study, 95% of adults aged 18-49 are regularly online. That’s 95% of parents of school aged children.

Millennials expect information to be easily accessible at any time. According to this Crowdtap article from January, 2016, 90% of millennial parents believe that social media is a useful way to get information. A year later, this number has likely increased. This is why monthly paper newsletters are going by the wayside (or should, at least). Consistent use of social media is the most effective way to reach today’s parents.

If your school or district is not yet reaching parents via social media, it’s time to get started.

 

 

 

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How A Family Trip to the Aquarium Helped Me Think About Instruction

Over the Winter Break, our family took a trip to the Long Beach Aquarium. This trip was part of a birthday celebration for our twins, Jackson and Siena, who just turned 8. We knew we were in for a fun, interesting day seeing aquatic animals and learning about humans’ impact on the ocean. I hoped that my 4 kids would have fun, learn about a few animals, and gain some idea about their connection to the ocean. img_1438

What I didn’t expect to get was an insight into lesson design.

I won’t go into details about our day; it was wonderfully long and we hit every spot of the aquarium at least once. There was- uncharacteristically- very little whining and a whole lot of smiles. It was a great family day.

My takeaway as an educator, however, happened a few days after the trip.  It was a rare day that I had just one kid in the car with me, and I wanted to start a conversation with him, so I asked, “What was the best part about the aquarium?” Without hesitation, my 8 y/o son answered, “Touching the jelly fish.” The rest of the conversation went like this:

Me: “Ok….what was the next best thing?” IMG_1421.JPG

Son: “Touching the rays and sharks.”

Me: “OK…..what was third best?”

Son: “Touching the horseshoe crabs.”

After 5+ hours, seeing 1000’s of animals, watching videos, listening to marine experts, and the ‘best’ things were the touch tanks. Over the next few days, I held the same conversations with my other three kids.  The only variation in their answers was the order of their favored touch tanks. After 4 of these conversations I came to a realization.

My 4 kids could not be any different in the way they act and learn. They are great examples of varied learning styles. Regardless, their favorite, lasting memory of the trip was getting to touch the animals.  Interacting, touching, feeling. Wet, slimy, rough.

What does this mean for instruction? It indicates to me that DOING will always trump SEEING, READING, or HEARING. Our classrooms must be places that create memories and excitement.  I want my own kids coming home from school excited about their learning. They won’t come home excited about a video.  They won’t come home excited about a lecture.  They WILL come home excited about things they make. What we can touch, we can learn.

My hope everyday is that the 4,600ish students in our District come home excited about what they have done and learned.  As we move forward, making sure that our teaching and learning have opportunities to touch, hold, and make.

 

 

One Word for 2017

My one word for 2017 is CARE. This word has meaning for me at home, at work, and in the community.

its-all-about-relationshipsAt home, it is easy to allow life to take over.  Work, sports, activities, school, family commitments….they can take up all of the waking hours not otherwise taken by my job.  I will focus my time this year on enhancing relationships with my wife, children, and parents. When in the car with kids, I will turn down the radio and ask questions.  When i run out of questions, I’ll ask more. I’ll tell them about my day; my successes and struggles.  This small effort will help make sure that the little time I have with my kids is spent enhancing our relationships. After the kids have gone to bed- the time I have with my wife- can easily be spent in silence or looking at a screen (phone, computer, tv). Instead, I’ll do the same thing I do with the kids- ask questions, listen, and pay attention. It will demonstrate that I care about them.

I started a new job in Oak Park USD this past July. Although I spent the first 6 years of my career in OPUSD, some of the people have changed, and I certainly have a different role than I did the first time around. What that means is that I know a lot of people, and a lot of people know me. However, we know each other from 2009. My goal for this year is to build deep and meaningful relationships with admin, teachers, support staff, and students. By building on my existing relationships, I will be better able to help our district change and adapt. It will demonstrate that I care about them.

I don’t have a lot of time to give to my community; I spend so much of my time working and doing family things. However, I do serve on the board of our city’s softball league.  I cant take on a major role in the organization, but I do what I can as a board member and coach to help improve the league and make it a valuable community resource for families in Moorpark. This year, I will focus on building relationships with other board members and the parents of my players.  Taking an extra minute at the end of a board meeting to connect with another board member, or sticking around after a practice to learn more about a player and their family.  These little things will help me build relationships with the people in my life.  It will demonstrate that I care about them.