Parent involvement and education is an important part of a well-functioning Montessori school. Happy families help with retention and, with the vast majority of Montessori schools relying on word-of-mouth recommendations, happy families also drive new enrollments.
Many Montessori schools try to appeal to parents by holding before school and after school parent/teacher/administrator gatherings. These can be informal coffee hours, book clubs, or other forms of parent education. It can be frustrating though, when after all the planning no one shows up.
Using Technology to Help Increase Parent Involvement in Your Montessori School
Like teachers and administrators, parents have busy lives. As a teacher, arriving early or staying late for a parent meeting was not high on my list of fun activities. And as a parent, the last thing I want to do after work is go to a meeting at school.
Social media offers another way to build connections. Imagine, conducting a meeting online. Parents could tune in at their leisure, after their children have gone to bed, perhaps, and get information quickly and easily. Calling their meetings Home & School Meeting 2.0, school principal Joe Mazza did just that and grew his meeting attendance from 10 people to 58 in just a few months.
Change does not happen overnight, but with a little careful planning your efforts will pay off. Mazza suggests the following steps to building a successful online meeting environment (Mazza, 2012):
- Know your population’s needs by conducting surveys of how many families have internet access, either at home or at work. Also, be sure to ask how many people would tune in to watch your web meeting.
- Network and spread the word. Get the message out to all families by using email, fliers, and personal phone calls.
- Be familiar with the technology. Nothing is worse than trying to hold an online meeting and having the technology fail. Remember learning to use the Montessori materials in your classroom? Practice makes perfect. If your technology fails or it looks like you do not know how to use it, parents will not access future communication from you.
There are several free platforms that you can use to host your online meetings. You may want to experiment to find the best one for you. Also, there may be parents in your community who have knowledge of how to conduct online meetings — take advantage of your resources and learn from them. Most importantly, be excited and open to new ideas. Your attitude will help set the tone for your faculty and families.
To view an example of Mazza’s e-Meetings, go to:
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, April 12, 2013.