Brianne Gidcumb | November 2015
Parent/Teacher Conferences as Vehicle for Arts Advocacy
Talking Parent/Teacher Conferences
Parent/teacher conferences have arrived for many educators. Conferences are a great opportunity to educate parents about what their children are learning in the arts, and in arts integration, and to inform parents about standards, practices, and assessments in the arts, as well as to make connections and increase the profile of arts education in your school. Here are few ideas you might try to engage with parents during conferences this year!
Distribute informational materials.
Even with your best efforts at home communication, nothing really has the same impact as sharing information with parents personally. Even the simple act of standing in the hallway or inviting parents into your room to personally distribute information (i.e., curriculum guides, informational brochures on arts integration, infographics about the power of the arts, etc.) opens up the lines of communication to engage in conversation about the vision and the structure of the arts education you strive to provide for their children.
Connect with social media.
When you teach a general arts course and you have so many families to connect with, social media is an incredibly powerful way to open up lines of communication. A website or blog is a great tool for providing important updates, as well as to give an inside look into your classroom with pictures, videos, lessons, etc. Set up a laptop bookmarked to your blog or website and allow parents to explore while they wait for their conferences, and provide a way for parents to connect. You could provide something as simple as a slip of paper for parents to take home so they can find the website later, or you provide directions to have parents follow or connect with your social media right there.
Find creative ways to display student work.
This goes beyond the “dog and pony show” of hanging up students’ art projects. Give parents a glimpse into the type of products that your students create in your arts class. Take pictures of students in action, and create a bulletin board in the hallway where parents can see their students engaged in learning, along with drafts of work, learning targets, materials, etc.
Conferences can be a great recruitment tool to involve parent helpers in the arts classroom room as well as a vehicle for discussing how to bring arts curriculum and concepts into the home. Provide a list of ideas of ways parents can engage in the arts at home or in the community with an events calendar, strategies for artistic thinking, or recommendations of pieces to study together. Additionally, many parents want to be involved in the arts classroom. Set up a calendar for helpers for anything you might need, from something as simple as sorting materials to helping in centers. Parents will have a more vested interest in your arts program if they are personally involved!
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How do you use parent-teacher conferences to promote the arts and arts integration?