Are Term Overviews a valued form of communication about learning?

A number of schools send out term overviews a few weeks into a term. As a parent, what do you do when your child brings home a copy of the TERM OVERVIEW? Do you scan it, see there are no important dates and then do little more with it? Do you see this as a polite gesture by the classroom teacher to make you aware of the learning in the classroom? Do you read it and think nothing more about it? Do you wonder why they are created and sent at all.

Parents and teachers might argue that with class and student blogs, communication about learning is current and continuous. It might be said that many parents come to the school, visit the classrooms, talk to the teachers or even assist in the classroom and feel informed about what is happening.

The fact remains that not all parents have the opportunity or time to be physically involved in the life of the school. In spite of being surrounded by technology, particularly portable devices not all parents are up to date in how to use the technology and access information.

Some educators who strongly push technology still advocate the use of a variety of types of communication to build partnerships in schools.

Perhaps looking at the purpose of the TERM OVERVIEW may support school communities to evaluate their relevance. It may also encourage the use of the overview and revitalise it’s use with some members within these communities. It could also encourage feedback around what information is informative and what can be discarded.

Revisiting an earlier post, PARENTS ARE IMPORTANT IN A CHILD’S EDUCATION may be useful.

“Parents do not hang off the edge of their children’s education; they sit at its very core.’

This is a quote from an article written in the Launceston Examiner, Launceston TAS 15 October,2013, by Ian Dalton

In a  previous post  term overviews were presented as

  • a communication like class and individual blogs, giving parents an opportunity to share in the learning of their children.
  • an informed questioning tool for when  they ask their children what they did today. A more explixit question will not get the reponse,” Nothing much or I don’t know, just work”
  • focused knowledge about content and learning. What if we knew that the children would be learning about money this term and their inquiry question was around sustainability or history? Now the questions can be focused, particularly if you follow the class blogs. Conversations might be around specific topics. You might find opportunities for your children to have experiences using money or discuss TV programs or articles. When we are all exploring a big question then we move from questions and answers to real learning conversations.
  • an opportunity to partner with parents who may have knowledge or expertise around the unit of work or have access to people and resources to enhance the topic. With the advent of  tools like Skype and other online resources the broader community can partner in the learning more easily if not able to attend at the school.
  • an opportunity for authentic  involvement in children’s learning. Asking questions and responding to blog posts by making comments can  be powerful to the learning. Making time with your child to read a post and create a comment together is building literacy skills in an authentic way.

If we can see the term overview as a tool for learning with the community- teachers, students and parents, then how does the relevance of the term overview impact on our understanding of partnering in learning. Doesn’t this type of communication work for you or do you see other more creative ways of involving all members of a school community in learning?

One thought on “Are Term Overviews a valued form of communication about learning?

  1. Great discussion Janette.
    I am a believer in giving people a number of ways of connecting o information however, I also believe that these methods need to evolve and people need to take on new methods of communication.

    Our commitment as schools is to communicate to our communities and we are always seeking good ways to achieve that.

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