Saturday, October 29, 2016

Partnering with Parents

Image from:

Last week,  I attended a parent meeting to introduce parents to our current iPad classroom pilot. It was a tough meeting. There were a few very vocal parents who felt that:

  •  Students in grades 4-5 were too young to have unrestricted access to the internet. 
  • They were concerned about cloud sharing-students should only be able to "see" what is on their device.
  • They were concerned about 'screen time". 
  • They were horrified that students would have potential access to Twitter. 
  • They felt that it would be impossible for the classroom teacher to monitor what students were "doing" on the iPads. 

This despite the fact that we have worked hard to keep parents informed along the way.

  • We have given them a list of apps we are exploring. 
  • We have shared with them the digital responsibility lessons we have been working through (and will continue to work through), and the contract we all signed regarding responsible use. 
  • We have explained the rationale for the use of the iPads, embedded in research and sound pedagogical practice, and shared our plans for teacher training and ongoing support both through our established PLC and access to an instructional coach. 
  • We have set up a SeeSaw digital portfolio and given parents access to their child's account. 
  • We have hosted parent information meetings
  • We have crafted an informed consent that goes beyond the generic district form, and have explicit forms for each app we are using that stores any type of student data (ie SeeSaw Digital Portfolios)
After the meeting, I went back the drawing table. I went to the "restrictions" section on all the iPads and reset them all with restricted access, then drafted a letter to parents outlining the changes we made. I hope that as we continue to use the iPads in the classroom, and parents see the positives, we will be able to move them forward in regards to addressing their concerns, balanced with a more optimistic understanding of the positive aspects of using the iPad (and having digital access) . I truly believe it's imperative to have parent support and participation with any technology incentive, and I have to say I was initially discouraged with the pushback, but it forced us to reevaluate and closely examine all the potential pitfalls, and re-clarify our reasons and justifications for what we are doing. In hindsight this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

What do you do to garner parent support? Do you have examples of letters to parents? What types of restrictions do you impose on internet access if any and why? Does it change depending on age? How do you deal with a breech of privacy? What other considerations do you need to take into account when launching a digital initiative?

No comments:

Post a Comment