Recently, friend of the blog “Continuing Ed” McCarthy reached out to me with an example of his end-of-the-week wrap-up video to parents. This isn't something I've done for my students' families but, gosh, does it seem like a simple method for radically increasing teacher clarity, teacher credibility, and the home-school partnership.
Let's take a look at the video:
First, a few notes about Ed and his distance teaching practice:
It's important to understand a bit more about Ed so that you don't fall into an unhelpful comparison trap.
- Ed's polish and poise is the fruit of hard-won expertise. He's been teaching English for 32 years and has coached 80 seasons (!) of football, wrestling, and lacrosse. (And people ask me how I do it all — ha! Ask Ed!)
- Ed is using audio and video more this year specifically because of the time he's spent learning Johns Hopkins' Teaching of Writing program.
- Each week, Ed is sending a single screencast to parents where he talks about “books, writing, Learning Partners, free reading, etc. As well, [he] send[s] along language such as, ‘I value and honor your son's hard work and…'”
- Ed has habituated audio messaging to the point where it's natural for him to leave an audio message on chat for a student after a good day of reading aloud. His students are accustomed to receiving thirty-second “Mr. MC” messages like this.
And now, a bit of analysis on Ed's video:
- Parents and guardians who watch this gain several things in less than five minutes:
- Mr. MC has made it easy to believe that their child is in the class of a credible teacher — someone who cares, is competent, and is passionate. Ed is nailing CCP, and when you do that with parents, you end up having parents reinforcing your credibility with their children — not because you've coerced them to, but because you've helped them believe that a thing is true.
- Mr. MC has made learning in class clear. This weekend, the parent/guardians of Mr. MC's students won't need to have vague conversations about what's happening in their English class — they'll be able to talk about sentence length, or home-writing, or what it means to be a better student, or which new vocabulary word is their favorite. Clarity acts as a multiplier on lessons.
- Camaraderie with their child's teacher. Mr. MC's demeanor and words communicate that in this man they have a partner. Too often, the relationship between teachers and parents/guardians becomes borderline adversarial. I'm sure that Ed experiences this sometimes, but with messaging like this it's got to be rare.
- Perhaps best of all, from a teacher workload perspective Ed hasn't created a monster here. He's taking lesson planning pieces that he already needs to create, and he's sharing them via screencast with parents. Any time that we can take work created for one purpose and use it again for a second, high-leverage purpose, we're winning.
Thank you so much to Ed for sharing this.
Best to you, colleagues.