I should preface this week’s blog by saying I’m a big fan of Twitter. As someone who works in the media business, it serves as a constant stream of news at my fingertips. I’ll often check my phone and get the latest updates on the National Hockey League, the upcoming federal election or what pictures Sofia Vergara is posting—because, hey, I’m a fan of Modern Family.
And in the middle of my newsfeed, I'll often see updates about what my daughter’s class is doing at school. Last year, her grade two teacher was absolutely amazing on Twitter, constantly posting updates from the classroom. So when Lily would come home from school, I didn’t have to use all of my interrogation tactics to try and get a simple response about what happened that day.
Every parent of a school-age child has had this conversation before:
“So, what did you do in school today?”
“Surely you can tell me at least one thing that happened today.”
“I don’t remember.”
The “What-did-you-do-in-school…I-don’t-remember” routine is among the most painful song-and-dance involved with parenting an elementary school kid. (Also on the list is the “Why-don’t-you-ever-turn-off-the-lights….Sorry-I’ll-do-it-next-time” jig and the ballad of “I’m-sick-of-making-everybody-custom-sandwiches….Hey-you-forgot-to-cut-off-my-crusts-today.”)
However, if your kid’s teacher is on Twitter it’s great because it allows you a peek inside the classroom and opens up a dialogue about what happened at school. Lily’s teacher would often post pictures of the books they were reading, math problems they were trying to solve, and art projects they were working on—all with the idea of allowing the parents to see what was happening on a daily basis.
So when Lily came home from school, I simply had to check her teacher’s Twitter feed and voila!—“Let’s talk about the differences between spheres, cones and cylinders. Now if you’ll be so kind as to excuse Daddy for two minutes, he just needs to Google something so he remembers the differences between those things.”
This year, Lily’s grade three teacher is on Twitter and I’m already seeing updates about what they're doing on a daily basis. And just this week, my wife traded notes with Lily’s teacher on Twitter to confirm something about a Scholastic book order. Twitter allows you to have another means of communicating with your kid’s teacher and you can often get a timely response—without being the creepy parent who asks for the teacher’s cell number.
But I understand there are some drawbacks to this approach. I’ve talked to several parents who aren’t on board with their kid’s teacher being on Twitter because they feel like social media isn’t something that should be happening during classroom hours. Others are reluctant to have their kid’s picture posted on Twitter—although most schools provide a waiver form to sign if you want to opt out of these situations. And many parents also say they don’t have time to join Twitter for the sole purpose of checking in on their kid, because they’ve already got a Facebook account they ignore.
And yes, when you follow your kid’s teacher on Twitter you may discover that they're following Kim Kardashian or are big fans of Jersey Shore. But really, is that any more embarrassing than the fact that I follow Sarah Hyland? (Again, I must reiterate I’m a big fan of Modern Family.)
To me, having your kid’s teacher on Twitter is beneficial to parents who want to stay regularly engaged with what is happening at school. You'll have a better idea of what's happening and you don’t have to wait for the rare parent-teacher nights that only happen once or twice a year.
And I’m sure teachers love the fact they can communicate with parents so easily. In fact, I’ll bet a lot of teachers wish they could always limit their correspondence to parents to only 140 characters.
Read more: A day in the life of an elementary teacher>