Sunday, 16 February 2014

Vietnam Technology Conference 2014

"Wow!" is all I can say! It is Sunday evening and I am buzzing from all the learning. This year the United Nations International School of Hanoi and Saigon South International School of Ho Chi Minh City teamed up again to deliver one of the best professional development opportunities of the year. There were more than fifty workshops, a couple of hundred participants and a great key note speaker. Here is the conference website.

I delivered my workshop on professional learning communities during the first session on Saturday. My resources may be found here.

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Gary Johnson came up from SSIS for the conference and I got to attend his workshop on Google Scripts. If you are familiar with the TV show, The Wire, they refer to McNulty as "Real Police". Well Gary Johnson is "Real Teacher". He taught us some very useful Google Scripts and his materials may be accessed using the above link.

Patrick Green was the key note speaker and he opened the conference with his presentation, 'The Relevant Teacher'. A sample of what he was speaking about may be viewed here. He then led two workshops. The first was on YouTube and the second on Google Maps. Again, what can I say except that they were incredible. If your school is not using Google Apps For Education (GAFE), which is free, you are doing your students a disservice in this day and age.

The final session I attended was by Pete Kennedy. He gave an excellent presentation entitled 'Driven to Digital Distraction'. Pete showed us the dangers of multitasking and his materials will be available here soon.

A huge thanks to everyone involved in the conference and forgive me if the tone of this post is a bit different to my usual. As I said, I am buzzing off the learning right now!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Parent Communication

At a recent meeting of the Hanoi Technology Group, one of my colleagues brought up the theme of parent communication. My belief is that teachers are not the primary educators students have in their lives. Teachers spend a large portion of time with students, but the majority of time and teaching should be spent with family. As the primary caregivers, parents are the main teachers in the lives of our students. I would like to use this space to suggest ways to empower parents to teach their children, our students.

At my school, one of the ways we empower parents is by providing as much information and training to them as possible. Some of the ways we communicate with parents include:
  • Sending class timetables home at the start of each week.
  • Using communication books and email for teachers and parents to write messages to each other. It is important to find the means of communication that best suits the individual parent. Some parents are more technologically comfortable and prefer emails to their phone while others will prefer more traditional means of communication.
  • Holding exam information evenings when exams are approaching. These evenings give parents detailed information on the exam process as well as strategies to support their children as they study at home. 
  • Holding coffee mornings where parents may come in to meet with school leaders. These are usually structured around a curriculum theme. 
  • Having a parent/teacher information evening each term. This is a form of communication I personally like to employ and I am currently planning one to explain our reading program in the early weeks of Term 3. 
  • Holding parent/teacher conferences to keep parents up to date with student progress.
The above list takes a lot of time and effort on the part of the teacher. However, keeping parents informed on what is happening and giving them strategies on how to teach their child is well worth the effort. In my opinion, teaching is not a nine-to-five job. I give my email and telephone number to my students and their parents so they can get in touch with me should they have any issues. This has always helped me to build trusting relationships with my students and their parents.