Monday, October 19, 2015

Connecting -- What Works For You?

We are fortunate at Benton Community and especially at Keystone Elementary that so many teachers are willing to share the different ways in which our students are learning each day.  There are several ways to share our students' awesomeness ranging from the newest fads in technology to good ol' fashioned face-to-face.  What works for you and our stakeholders?

At Keystone Elementary, and a growing number of teachers across our district, Twitter is a place to share with our community, families, and other educators what is happening inside and around our schools.  Oftentimes schools will choose a hashtag to attach to their posts.  This places the tweet into a file folder on Twitter / Instagram with this certain tag that is easily searchable.  For instance:  Benton Community (@BentonCSD) has a few hash tags.  The most popular ones are #BentonCSD (general Benton awesomeness), #beaboBCat (sports and activities), and #BCTLT (Teacher Leadership Team).  To be more specific to our school, many Keystone Elementary teachers have started posting with another hash tag:  #KeyRocks.  In addition to this tag, we also have a hashtag for our Makerspace (#BCMakers), our Outdoor Learning Space (#BCKeyGarden), and a few classrooms have their own hashtag (#KFKinders, #HappelFirsties) for parents to get a direct feed of posts.  If you get a chance, check some of them out.  You won't be disappointed!

Check out our #KeyRocks hashtag on Twitter and Instagram! 


Several classrooms at Keystone Elementary have also chosen to share their classroom happenings via classroom or grade-level blogs.  A complete listing of these blogs can be found HERE.  Blog posts can be about a variety of topics from classroom newsletters to upcoming field trip reminders.  They can also be photos of events or learning going on each day or videos to help parents understand a topic we are learning about.  The posts don't have to be exhaustive narratives, in fact, they should be short and to the point.  Get the message out there short and sweet! Some examples of the classroom blogs are below.
Mrs. Benton - Preschool

Mrs. Bridgewater - 2nd Grade

Mrs. Embray - 2nd Grade

Mrs. Bonewitz & Mrs. Kimm - 3rd Grade 

Our school recently adopted an Instagram page (@KeystoneElementary) and we have a teacher, Ms. Upah, who uses classroom leadership roles so a classroom photographer share snapshots via Instagram (@BCFirst).  This is a chance to give a quick snapshot inside the walls of our classrooms where students are accomplishing wondrous things!

Nothing beats a good ol' fashioned face-to-face conversation or a handwritten note.  This is an imperative in how we continue to build trusting relationships with families in which we serve.  Our teachers continue fostering these forms of communication while also reaching out to parents on digital platforms.  Our face-to-face communication with parents and teachers is not limited to conferences twice per year.  Each fall we schedule a Parent Partnership Night for families to come in and ask questions of the school and teachers and find out how they can stay connected to their students' learning.  This year we had this communication opportunity differentiated for different parent needs through a parent edCamp.  It was a hit and we hope to continue growing our audience next time!

All of our teachers are also extremely active in student and community activities whether it is working concessions at soccer games or attending Benton Community fine arts and athletic events.  We also have a very active PTO which allows parents to visit for breakfast dates and sponsoring activities for students and their families to participate.

Whichever way you choose to share your classroom awesomeness, consider trying something new.  Step outside of your comfort zone and see if there is another way to share your message.  By sharing our message, we no longer give kids the option of saying, "nothing" when a parent asks what happened at school.  A parent can see a blog post or a Twitter or Instagram photo and say, "Tell me about this learning!" or "I see you did ______ today.  Tell me about it!"   Help us continue the learning from our day into your dinner table conversations!  I'd love to hear about how you are sharing with your stakeholders!  Tweet me at @TownsleyAJ or tweet to our Teacher Leadership hashtag, #BCTLT.

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