A Digital Window Is Priceless

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a digital window into the classroom is priceless!  Do you have children?  How often do you get to see them in the classroom?  Have you ever asked, “What did you do at school today?”  Did their response sound something like: “I don’t know.”

As a principal, I want to provide a window so that when our students get home from school, parents begin to say:

That was the first time I have ever saw you…

Show me how you…

I want to know more about…

What were you thinking when…

Why did you choose to…

When you raised your hand…

I am so proud of you!

Many school leader’s digital window is simply a tweet consisting of public announcements, sports scores, and snapshots of important events for the entire school community to see.  Tony Sinanis and Joseph M. Sanfelippo’s most recent book titled, The Power of Branding: Telling Your School’s Story, talks much about the importance of spotlighting the great things taking place at your school.

“We must flatten the walls of our buildings and take control of the perception the community has about how we instruct children. We must share stories, emails, images, captions, blog posts, and videos that spotlight the teaching and learning that is unfolding in our schools and districts.” – Tony Sinanis and Joseph M. Sanfelippo

For the last three years, I have been using a smartphone to capture learning taking place within our classroom walls.  Using iMovie, I quickly create a movie or digital window that I can share with the broader community. Personally, my motive behind a digital window isn’t so much about branding as it is about providing a window so that parents can see and understand what and how their child is learning.

I send out a digital newsletter each week that includes a minimum of one digital window that captures great teaching, student engagement, special events, student collaboration, technology integration, and most important, students owning their learning.  I have received emails from parents, grandparents, and guardians from all over the world expressing their gratitude and appreciation.  I believe that if we showcase high levels of learning on a frequent basis, branding will take care of itself.

The following are a few samples of a digital window into the classroom.

Creating Conditions In Which Students Own the Learning

Students become CEO’s, CFO’s, Attorneys, Newscasters, Arby Employees, Web Designers, Bank Tellers, etc… for the day

Teaching at the Speed of Learning!

Something to think about.  Stay connected, Shawn

4 Comments

  1. Lisa Robinson said:

    I can’t really do this since my caseload must remain completely private, but as a parent, I would LOVE to see snippits of classroom events from my children’s day. It would open up a much more meaningful (and perhaps accurate) dialog about their daily events, activities and learning.

    February 17, 2015
    • sblankenship said:

      Thanks Lisa for commenting. I totally understand your situation.

      I try to limit my “digital windows” to about one minute so that parents and grandparents will take the time to view it. Whether we are Skyping with a famous author or sculpting clay in art class, I want to capture special moments to not only showcase the great teaching and learning, but to share these moments beyond our classroom walls. As a principal, it only takes a few minutes to video and the finished product can last a lifetime. I still remember my first digital window in 2009. These students have now graduated but the memories have been captured forever!

      February 17, 2015
  2. Mary Johnson said:

    I will be completely honest. This just seems like one more thing to add to my list. Before I left school last night I was scrambling to enter test scores from Friday, organize papers that need to be graded and entered, email and communicate with two parents, put away a few things in my classroom, run to the office to copy some student work that I need for data, and that just barely touches the surface of what needs to be done in my classroom. I welcome anyone, especially parents in my classroom at anytime. In fact, yesterday I had two different parents in my classroom at two different times. Maybe one day I’ll tweet a picture, but not this week!

    February 18, 2015
    • sblankenship said:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, especially during such a busy time of the day. I really appreciate it. I am a principal and visit classrooms frequently and attend all outside activities and events. Most ‘digital windows’ that I create are one minute or less and take me no time to create and publish. I search for ways to provide working parents a small snapshot of their child’s day in which they will spend 1/2 of the time they are awake. Now, inviting parents into the classroom trumps a ‘digital window’ in my eyes. However, only the two sets of parents were able to capture the learning. Something to think about, Shawn

      February 18, 2015

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