This year’s theme at The School at Columbia University is Community. In the past, themes have centered around Numeracy, Literacy, Innovation, and other key topics. In the spirit of community, I asked my Head of School, Amani Reed, if I could launch a monthly program where parents could drop-in during breakfast from 8:00-9:00am for an informal hour of conversation.
My goal is for parents (and any available teachers) to reinforce a common language and common goals between parents, students, and teachers. I hope parents bring questions and talking points to the table like an unconference where the topic is not set in stone or scheduled but rather flows organically based on the interest of the group. I anticipated that attendees would ask about how to access The School’s photo archive, video archive, class websites or how to connect with the various Google calendars we use (Athletic, Family, Faculty, and grade-specific calendars).
The parents who gathered at the first meeting in January used the time to ask about spyware and propose a more rigorous K-8 computer science curriculum. Thankfully, Amani Reed (Head of School) and Don Buckley (Director of Innovation) were present to address these conversation threads. They also requested weekly sessions with topics assigned to each session. Though I was initially more than willing to accommodate these requests, after discussing this with various administrators and the other technology integrators, I decided to stick to my original plan of hosting an informal monthly gathering.
I was really pleased with the second gathering we just had on Tuesday. From my perspective, the people who came brought good questions about public/private, parental controls, which tools to use to support curricular goals at home, how to open links from teacher emails, and how to navigate the various technology tools/programs embraced by The School in the various grades. We talked about SnapChat, Facebook, Common Sense Media, how everything one puts online is public/permanent/traceable, how there is no such thing as privacy online, how various grades use technology to communicate with students, how to limit web access (check browser history, put devices in public places, change modem’s password, etc.), and a bunch of other stuff. Katy Gartside (@KatyGartside), 5th Grade teacher, shared her class site and the various resources linked from it.
I also shared links to the following articles:
Snapchat Founders Sued by Classmate Who Claims They Took His Idea
It’s Official: Teens Are Bored With Facebook
Currently, I’m looking forward to next month’s meeting…