The staff room is an awful place sometimes. That is a place to vent frustration or even anger at events that have happened.
Quite often I find the frustration quite justified. We have all had complaints from parents, some of us physical threats and the knowledge that an hour or so of our already little time is going to be wasted on going through the motions of due process. Sometime, the reason for parental complaint lies deeper than legal rights and wrongs. I want to pick up on that further down.
There is, however, another side to the staff room that I love. It is the “bigger half” (don’t strike me down, god of sums) which is often outweighed by the darker, smaller side of the staff room.
Last term, my department was joined together for a lunchtime coffee. Between sports duties, corridor duties and revision classes, this is rare. We were chatting about various pieces of nonsense (due dates for the expectant parents in the group, how much rain there would be in the holidays, who was teaching what levels next year, when would the results be in etc etc) when the conversation turned to a discussion with a parent from a few months ago.
The parent had bounced an idea that the maths we teach is probably not beyond them, but as the parent was unsure of the exact content and the parent had not been involved in learning for many years, they just felt under-confident to offer their services to their child.
We discussed this over our coffee (I firmly believe Nescafé has more to do with successful CPD than the swankiest of hotels ever can) and found there would be enough interest in this to offer an hour a week as an after school engagement.
The costs? Do you remember the days we got paid for offering CPD? You are getting old. Number of cups that need dishwashed? Approximately 100ml of milk and 10-20 spoons of coffee. Printing, but we would not be teaching the parents the course, that would be impractical. Perhaps?
I have just spent the best part of three weeks getting my head around moodle, this will help my students as it will also engage them with blog writing and help us reduce the volume of paper we use. Several features of moodle blow glow out of the water for me, for maths. Perhaps once I have these features nailed in my learning, I will be happy to use glow for the other features. Who knows!
It then struck me. Moodle is a good option for parents. A page to outline what we teach followed by a few questions to demonstrate what we assess. Feedback is provided and a copy available for the teacher who enrolled them. An option is available to not give feedback should that be preferred.
Putting this together with some guides to support families with Maths will also be a major resource. For example, how can parents help with estimation and rounding? Learning the rule “5 or more round up” is great but getting the child to estimate the weight of sugar when making a cake or measure of milk when cooking (2 very simple thoughts) embed the spirit of CfE better than any text books can.
This is not an overnight thing, planning and co-operation may well be required.
So, an easily created log in to a slightly augmented set of online homework resources, a copy of a short list of activities that could be fun yet helpful in enriching the child’s Maths experience and a weekly coffee/chat/Maths discussion. Are these going to go down well? Are we going to get parents to get involved? Will it help with their understanding of what we are teaching, and why? Will it make for a better relationship between school and parent?
This questions are not rhetorical, I look for your views. Please let me know if you have experience of this and (regardless of your experience or subject) let me know what your thoughts are, before I spend too much time working on it. Your views are crucial in moving this forward. Please respond either by tweet or comment?