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Earlier we introduced our 9 Habits for Successful Flipping, on EduTeach Wednesday. Now we’re going through the list to give a more detailed breakdown of all 9 steps. Number 1 is here, and for this EduTech Monday, we’re going to focus on number 2:
Keep Communication Channels Open
The Flipped Classroom relies on the understanding of family and caregivers who were taught in a traditional, teacher driven, homework heavy environment. Lots of parents want to see worksheets, spelling practice, and book assignments every night, if only to satisfy themselves that something is being taught at school. But the Flipped Classroom is different, and you’ll need to be prepared for some questions and concerns.
Tweet To The Parents: Become a Part of the Routine
We don’t think it’s going too far to say that the Flipped Classroom is a more democratic approach to teaching. And the tools of democracy are the same as those of communication. The President, for example, garners over 20,000 new followers on Twitter every day. There are at least 60 uses for Twitter in the Classroom, and among them is spreading news to parents and students about homework, upcoming events, and interesting information or materials.Of course, you should consider your school’s digital communications policy, and create an alternate Twitter account for your “Teacher Persona.” By giving your parents a unique hashtag, for example: #MrG123, and including this hashtag in all class related tweets, you can make it easy for parents to keep up with all twitter based communications. The Flipped teacher has room for daily communication with parents. When you meet for conferences, there should be no surprises.
And that equation works in the opposite direction as well. Parents in the Flipped Classroom are a part of the process. They are your partners, and you will rely on them to help encourage learners to engage with new materials when they are distributed remotely. You can help this by engaging parents as well, and trying to keep them up on what’s going on in the classroom. Tweeting regular updates to parents as a whole can make them feel connected to the process, and in today’s world, parent’s can respond and become active participants in the school day, even when they are somewhere else at work.
If you aren’t ready to dive into the Twitterverse just yet, you can go for the more traditional Email approach, or you can try another, more closed messaging system, more in line with the times:
SendHub is a more secure, private method of mass messaging. It allows you to send a text message to anyone who has “opted-in” to a certain list, using a private code available only to you and those you share it with. This way, anytime you want to send an SMS to all your subscribing parents at the same time, you can just select the group, and compose your message. This service has a “freemium” pricing structure; however, there are other services for sending mass texts, which are completely free.
Set Up a Facebook Page
The advantages of a Facebook Page (or Fan Page), are similar to those of a normal Facebook Timeline, but include some features not available to private pages. As the owner of a Facebook Page, you can easily access your Facebook Page and “act,” as the page. So, for example, your Page: “Miss Jones’ 3rd Grade,” can be “liked” and subscribed to by parents or students, or others whom you invite. When you are viewing the page, you will be the page, and anything you write will appear in the name of the page. You will also be able to view statistics on which of your posts are seen, which links are clicked and which material is viewed or “talked about,” which is Facebook jargon for sharing and liking.
What to Expect, And What to Say
While you aren’t going to win over every parent, every time with a radical new approach to the traditional classroom, your main goal in paying attention to the way you communicate is to model your approach. If you can prove to parents that you know how to effectively and safely use technology to communicate with and educate them, then you will have an easier time convincing them that it will work for their children too. Make a strong commitment to the services and devices you do decide to use, and use them well. One of the great frustrations with any new technology, service, or new gadget in the social media realm is that people start using it, and then fall back into their old habits. But the Flipped Classroom has to be and stay different. One-to-one and One-way communication isn’t feasible if you want to ensure that your students spend their time productively, and are engaged with the materials you share with them and create for them.