Monday, August 3, 2009

Building a Learning Community

Its now time for you observers of the Podgorani to stop passing by without contributing, I'm calling you all to attention. I need a discussion or contribution on this post.
We have an opportunity at school to go beyond the assessment and routine of school and really do something special. I want to talk about building a learning community, what ideas do you have that gets them in the door, that builds communication, that builds families together with the school, that opens the door all the way from high maintenance mums to the working dad, the Maori and polynesian community, the masses of ethnicities, send in your ideas. I have listed a few below that seem insignificant but done properly they can be powerful.

Road Crossing Duty - great dialogue to be had here.
Values Postcards - sending something in the mail is awesome and so simple.
Twitter - get some followers and keep it current.
Interactive School Website - parents and your community must feel welcome and make it easy.
Parent Information Days/evenings - literacy numeracy and just plain old fun.
Big school events: cross country/athletics/art shows etc - make them the best they have ever been, food, and fun.
Morning Coffee Days - one principal has a local coffee shop and publishes the times she will be there (once a week) which gives parents the opportunity to join them informally.
Home Visits - you have to knock on doors to get to know people, invite them to events personally.
Assemblies - these are not freemasons meetings, invite your community.
Magic Key - I heard of a principal who sent keys out to the community and had a prize for the person with the key that opened some box, he had heaps attend.
Race Night/Quiz Night - which double as fundraising and social activities.
Term Booklets - send home a booklet of achievement each term.
Meet the Teacher - before the year started.
Principals Forum - Informal discussions (2 per term) with any parents not specifically about your own kid, but ideas, discussion and questions about education.
Homework - Neil has the whole family medal thing working with his hwk challenges.

I know that writing an idea in one sentence can seem naff and can sound shallow and in a lot of ways a blog doesn't even start to scratch the way we open our door to learning and engagement but so what. Keep it short and flick them in the pot and we will assume any idea you have is actually done really well. This is your opportunity to sound good without having to back it up.


SummerlandPrimaryR4 said...

I say get our super ICT savy, Digital Natives, teaching the old folk how to green screen, how to edit a movie, how to take a great photo etc - could be anything - oh how to use google docs, twitter, blogs etc - our ch'n are the most powerful advertisement for what we do.
show and tell festivals - cultural festivals, regular assemblies, movie festivals, yearbook dvd's....etc

lovin some of those above too - most we do already but they go a long way - however small they sound in a sentence

Manaiakalani said...

Well our school camp on the school field in the Summer goes down a treat as a community builder. 150 kids participating by day. 100s extras by night. A week under canvas right in the heart of the community. And lots a learning happens there for young and old...

Cameron Lockie said...

Each class has a blog, and we advertise this in the newsletter for parents to view (a lot of parents have dial up so they are patient when it comes to viewing the blogs.
We do sheep crutching as a fund raisier this is also a great way for me to get involved with the community (me learning how to crutch sheep), especially the dads. We have good discussions over the beer and sausage at the end.

Allanah K said...

* I do the odd home visit to help people get their computers working again or show them how to get the photos out of the new camera and on to the computer. I work for muffins and coffee. Parents like that.

* The class blog keeps parents involved in what's happening.

* watch the kids play sport. Kids love it and parents appreciate you making the effort.

* Be out there at the end of the day to join 'the car park mafia'. If you are in the conversation they can't be moaning about you.

Podgorani said...

Great stuff guys nothing is too insignificant, thanks for sharing, come on punters keep the ideas rolling.

Marcus Norrish said...

'Parents with a Passion'. We invited parents to run sessions with smallish groups of kids on something they were passionate about. The parents came in for the last block on a Friday for three weeks in a row. We had groups like cooking, Maori herbal medicines (really cool one), tramping and bush safety, fishing and jewellery making and lots more. The kids loved it and it attracted both mums and dads.

Fiona Grant said...

Your 'Parents with a Passion' strategy was a great idea Marcus. I often think that as a classroom teacher I should have made greater efforts to harness the collective talents, interests and expertise of the people in our community.

Thinking back to when I had a class we always had wonderful support from parents for everything from camps to culture. However I am sure we could have been more deliberate about making connections with community expertise and how it can support learning as Marcus and others have described.

I am wondering how much difference increased access to new technologies can support this?

Regan said...

Some ideas from our school:
- Informal BBQ community evening in Term 1 Week 2 to meet everyone (the old Meet the Teacher)
- Meetings in Parents home as opposed to school, this is more inclusive for Maori parents
- Parent Network meetings for brand new parents to school with their 5 years olds
- Staff v Parents Netball games, these a brilliant for all!
- 'How To' sessions for Numeracy, pose questions in newsletter to invite them in, 'noticed ow maths is not taught the same way you were...'
- Raffle for a Ride Day - raffle to win the best ride to school, helicopter, limo, porsche, etc. Tonne of community involvement.

Rachel O'Shea said...

1. In the UK we did home visits for the four year olds starting. The 'Reception' teachers would go and meet the families and children in their own environment before they started school and would sit and chat with parents giving them all the info they needed. Helped a lot with the separation anxiety for first time families entering into the school system. It can be a very difficult time when babies start school. A great time to build a trusting relationship with a teacher though! Only works in some communities...
2. I've also worked in a school that had a 'parent liaison' for each community/ethnic group. Each group had a key parent attached. We ran monthly workshops in small groups with translators... even grandparents could attend.
3. Change the reporting system to something more meaningful...

Pete Hall said...

Nice to see how people have contributed here. My 2c:
Invite parents to the same self run PD that teachers engage in. Let them get a better way to judge teachers and see how much they really do think about and act on every day that otherwise goes missed.

Podgorani said...

Thanks guys I think this blogpost is a good collaborative effort. Some bloody cool ideas are flowing and we have just started to scape the surface.
Rachel, loving your work with the ethnicities, I know other schools do a good job here, something im keen on getting right. Marcus you are onto a good one there too. Cheers