Engaging Your Parent Community

While taking The Coach course from Eduro Learning were were asked to start building an online portal for parent learning for your school community. This was something that I had begun building as soon as I arrived at the Anglo-America School of Moscow because I had created a student/parent portal at my previous school and had seen how it could be an effective tool.

I began creating the online portal for students to use both in and out of school, but because I am not timetabled with students, it only gets used sporadically when I send a message to a teacher reminding them to share it. All students have it on their iPad and probably have at some point clicked and explored it just to see what it was. It is also a site that because it is used sporadically has not been heavily focused on or updated.

During Distance learning (DL) in the spring of 2020 though, it became the place where I housed all of the information for parents and students around tech help that they may need. I made sure that there were videos for how to log into all of our apps and services in case students were logged out while at home. I create ‘how to videos’ for how to find things like activities in Seesaw or other steps that I was regularly being asked for help on or could anticipate being asked for help.

In August, before school started, I started posting videos for how to make sure that your tech was ready for distance learning since we began the year in DL and most students kept their tech over the summer. I expected that for many students they did as the school directed which was to turn their iPad off and store it safely, so I was expecting that there would be updates that needed to happen. Also we all know that if you don’t use tech for a few weeks or months you generally get logged out of services. So I anticipated that there would be many things that students and parents would need to check. The school also had a change in our online face-to-face platform, so there were videos that were needed to get students and parents up to speed about how to get into the new platform. 

We used this site in combination with the creation of an email address for distance learning help that fed into our Helpdesk tech ticket system. This system allowed the tech coaches helped to answer student and parent tech questions that often came up. As you can imagine most of the problems were around not actually being logged into a service or logging in incorrectly. Often even with directing a parent to a video or to a slide with specific step by step instructions they would be unsuccessful. I found that the best way for me to solve parent problems was to ask parents to send me “a video of the entire iPad, including the edges of the case” that showed what they were having difficulty with, turned out to be the best option. Having videos allowed me to confirm, which most of the times I suspected, that they were not following the steps in the resource that they were sent and so they were unable to log in. Once I saw that I was able to tell them exactly which step they had missed and redirect them.

That being said I would say that at least 25% of tickets were solved by sending parents to the correct section of our student portal. A further 25% turned out to be something more complicated and required me to teach parents how to do restarts both hard and soft on an iPad! But a good 50% of what came in was parents or students just needing clarity on how to get into a service or platform or them trying to figure out which password to use or letting them know exactly which step they missed so that they could try logging in again.

While this portal may not be heavily used it is still a resource that, when needed is valuable for students and parents.

Parent’s Hour of Code

Yesterday my Coding Club hosted an event for parents. They decided at the beginning of the semester that they wanted to host a Parent’s Hour of Code. 

So before the parents arrived they set all of the computers in the lab up on Code.org and had them ready on the Hour of Code page. As the parents came in one of the Coders would grab them and get them started. We had an amazing turn out of parents, teachers, an IT Integrationist, IT technician and even a high schooler!

Here is what one of the coders, Ian, had to say:
“When you first hear about computer coding you think it’s an extremely complicated thing to learn. That is what Ms. Marrs and my dad thought at first. Code.org has made coding simple using blocks that you have to link together. Under those blocks is the computer code. After the Hour of Code both Ms. Marrs and my dad now know that it isn’t as complicated as they thought. I think the Hour of Code was extremely successful.”

Our first parent, who stayed the entire hour!

Teachers and parents learning.
Our first certificate of the event!
Another Certificate by one of our Lower School teachers!
On of our IT Technicians getting into the spirit.

Our Art Teacher who was told that  “you can make art” by one of the coders!

Her final design.
She did it!


We even got an adminstrator to come!
A 9th grader saw our posters and came to see what it was about.

Parents and Internet Safety

Last week we had our yearly Grade 4 & 5 parent internet safety presentation.  During this presentation we talk to the parents about the ways to help their children stay safe while on the internet.  Our main message is TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN about what they are doing online.  We try to get it across to the parents that there is no way to filter out everything that could lead to a safety issue.

As parents, you need to ask your children about the sites that they like to go on.

  • Find out if they know where the security settings are.  
  • Find out if they know how to report a problem.  
  • Find out how they interact with people on the sites they visit.  
  • Let them know that they can come talk to you if they run into issues.
  • Get them to show you how the site works (even if you have to fake being interested!)
  • Show them how you set up your own safety settings. Try this site: Safety Center
  • If you and your child don’t know how to set it up, then look for the answer together (don’t be shy).
  • Use sites like www.commonsensemedia.org to help you find out about websites, games, movies, and apps.
  • Pay attention to announcements in the news about games, apps, security breaches.
  • Get them to show you how they work with the internet at school.
  • Explore the Think You Know website with and without your child.
  • Share the “scary” stuff when appropriate.  How can they know that things are unsafe if they aren’t told.
  • Talk to your children about what they like to do online.