As part of my new role at Mount Vernon, Dr. Jacobsen asked that I lead the charge and coordinate our parent education program– Parent University– this year. Many schools devote time and energy to creating a slate of sessions for parents with the goals of enhancing their understanding of the school’s program as well as focusing on child development in some way. Rather than embark upon this project in a similar fashion, I modeled one of our school norms and Started with Questions. What did our program look like in the past? Who organized the sessions? What was the attendance like? Was there a theme to our offerings?
I discovered that there were some excellent ideas throughout the School, and wonderful sessions had taken place. A great foundation on which to build, what we needed was to consider our offerings in toto– that is, as one system. In addition, survey results revealed that parents were hungry for Parent University offerings, prefering mornings right after carpool or evening. Topics that received the highest number of mentions were curricular in nature (teaching practice-how/why do we teach math, reading, etc.), next steps (preparing for), technology, and child development/parenting.
The following question provided the framework for designing a robust Parent University: How Might We establish a structure and process to systematize and integrate all of our Parent University offerings under one umbrella, while at the same time, leaving space for divisions and departments to implement their offerings? We decided to use our school norms as the lens in designing Parent University:
- Share the Well: sessions on teaching and learning ranging from how to navigate Haiku and PowerSchool to the hows and whys behind teaching and learning in the curriculum to information parents need to understand their child’s experience
- Assume the Best and Fail Up!: presentations and dialogues centered on child development and parenting
- Start with Questions: curiosity conversations centered on specific Mount Vernon initiatives
- Have Fun: get-togethers to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate the Mount Vernon community
We clarified the organization of Parent University on the school website as well as simplified the manner in which parents arrived on the Parent University page. In addition, we created a blog to share our experience and archive the sessions for parents who can not attend. We also created a Twitter hashtag, #mvparentu, to document our sessions. Thus far, we have had great success! I invite you to follow the MVParentUniversity blog.