Teacher Clarity... It's Not Just for Students...
While meeting with a colleague on a collaborative blog post for our district's instructional coaching page, we began talking about the idea that walking through a doorway can cause you to forget what you were thinking of, or why you were going to that particular room (see a Psychology Today article on this). We had hit a wall on the work. The paragraphs were becoming meaningless jumbles of letters to us. I announced that I was going to get up and roam around the library we were working in, to get some distance from the work for a moment. I did, and when I saw myself in the restroom mirror, I had two ideas. The first was nothing related to education, but the other was that Teacher Clarity (see Visible Learning) isn't just reserved for one's students.
According to the instructional coaching model we use in Albemarle County Schools, we try to make our work public and transparent--it occurred to me that perhaps that is not a bad thing to extend that concept when it comes to connecting with families. While the title says Teacher Clarity, really the main idea is to be as clear and straightforward with all constituents in regard to the education of children. It's a lofty ideal, but a good one.
When considering clarity in regard to the families and community, perhaps it comes down to intent. This is made easier with social media and internet; however, the families that are most in need of clarity in their children's education are often those who have trouble with access to the resources that make such clarity possible. Clarity to the public is something that can occur if one takes that first step of increasing engagement--mainly because in order for a message or purpose to be clear, one must first have an audience to receive it.
Edutopia has a good set of ideas for increasing parental engagement--some are things you've probably heard, but it's a place to start, and once one has a set of ideas, it becomes easier to freestyle some new variations that may make more sense to your community. Here is the Edutopia link. Getting families through the door, whether physically or virtually is the first step. The second one is creating a clear identity and message.
I had written about Teacher Clarity on the teacher/student end after attending a John Almarode workshop. Initially, I'd thought I'd do a second post, then realized I'd said most of what I'd wanted. Then it turned out I did have more to say. Perhaps you'll find the podcast we did with John helpful as well. It's amazing how hard it can be to be understood. It's difficult to walk the line between the too little that leaves people with a sense of an incomplete message, and giving too much that creates confusion.