Teaching Parents about 21st Century Learning

How do schools help parents understand 21st century skills? There are definitely parents who don’t agree and don’t understand why a school would be actively using social media to foster global communication, encouraging collaboration over memorization, and assigning creative projects instead of long tests.

I ran across two great examples yesterday.

First,  Eric Sheninger has a blog post, How can schools engage parents in 21st Century Skills.”  His points are simple: the school administration needs to be a role model for using the tools, and invite parents in. Be transparent. Use the tools. Demonstrate why schools need to do this. His school regularly uses open houses and conferences to demonstrate areas of learning that are incorporating these skills. If you follow Sheninger at all, you know he is a champion of 21st century learning.

Second, A little closer to home, I see that the Edina Public Schools are taking a similar approach. They have a morning workshop devoted to showing parents “…how technology unleashes students’ passion for learning….” Knowing a bit about their district, I’m sure there will be many kids there demonstrating how they learn 21st century skills in schools.

Edina is also doing something I’ve strongly encouraged my kids’ schools to do. They are doing a survey of families to learn about the technology at home. This is an essential step schools need to take in order to go to the next level, and also to start getting parents on board understanding 21st century learning.  I often hear that the district can’t do tech in schools because kids don’t have tech at home. I think they’d be surprised…. and if kids don’t, what better reason to have schools using 21st century skills at school and support it however they can.

I’m so impressed by these approaches to teach parents and include parents as part of their childrens’ education. There are definitely schools and districts that aren’t at this place yet — in that case, I’d love to see those teachers and administrators attending these sessions.