I was sitting on the couch Sunday night before returning back to school after spring break and it felt like the day before the first day of school again. I wondered what each one of my students did during the break. I know that some probably had amazing family trips, while others had Pacific Northwest rainy day staycations. In the morning reconnecting would be at the forefront of everyone's minds. Students would be asking each other "What did you do?" and exclaiming, "Guess what I did!" There would most definitely need to be some time carved out for show-n-tell. In order to get a jump start on some of the conversations I made a quick Bloomz post on my classroom newsfeed.
I posted my favorite picture from spring break to model this call-to-action for my class parents. Within one day I received 11 posts on the classroom newsfeed! It was so exciting to see what everyone was up to. In hindsight, this was a fun and informative behavior management method. On Monday I came in knowing deep insights about my students' emotional temperatures based on their recent family experiences. Some came in right off of late night flights, exhausted. Another was on an emotional high from the grand opening of his family's business. One student tried crab for the first time and has a newfound love for seafood. Three students went to National Parks of historical significance, that of which I can incorporate directly into my curriculum to draw on prior knowledge and student interest.
Whenever there is a break in the school year I suggest teachers create a post asking families to share a picture. I didn't even ask parents to write much, I mostly expected pictures but what I got was much more! People wanted to share details and as each one came rolling in, my classroom community became closer.
The 60 likes/comments piece is the most motivating factor in my experience as a classroom teacher. When I see this data I know that I'm facilitating families to engage with and learn about one another in a positive way through technology. This is something I have strived to do throughout my teaching career. Frankly, it's an interview question many principals ask. How do you engage with your students' families? How do you connect with a diverse community of learners? Aspiring teachers and teachers already in the game should look to this technology to enhance family connections and strengthen student support systems.