This Week’s #PTchat on Twitter

Guest post by Joe Mazza

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After attending an EdCamp & EdCamp Leadership, it’s easy to envision how those conference structures might work from the parent lens. After our staff completed “KnappCamp” in early September, the large and messy un-conference schedule was left on display for the Home & School Meeting to allow parents to see what we did on our In-Service Day. 

The topics were more geared toward the teaching staff and how we could support local and state objectives, but parents also have skills they are learning and need to grasp to provide the best home support for their children. On Saturday’s drive up to EdScape, I carpooled with Glenn Yetter (@coachyetter), Brett Baker (@bakerbg)& Gwen Pescatore (@gpescatore25) – all consistent #PTchat contributors. We began talking about the idea of a conference or “ParentCamp” for parents…

During this week’s #PTchat, we’ll discuss ideas on how to provide parents with training both in traditional and un-conference like offerings. We’ll discuss the role of teachers, parents, leaders and students, and potentially plan an actual “ParentCamp.” Would any topics discussed here on #PTchat would make for good sessions?

Join us this Wednesday, 10/17 at 9PM EDT / 6 PM PST for Parent-Teacher Chat on Twitter. 

 New to Twitterchats?

After logging on to Twitter, visit Tweetchat and simply enter “ptchat” in the box at the top. Follow along, just watch and/or participate as you as much as you like to join others around the world in this weekly chat. We look forward to engaging your unique and important parent and/or educator perspective.

This Weeks PTchat – The Connected Parent: What does it mean for kids?

Guest post by Joe Mazza

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As social media continues to expand its global reach at an astronomical pace (460,000 new registrations per day on Twitter), parents are taking note. 80% of those 460K sign-ups are between the ages of 18-35 – the age of many of our elementary school parents here in 2012. 

Hashtags (i.e. #London2012) can be found on many commercials, billboards and are now being used by schools around the country.  Given the time, training and exposure, parents, like educators, have a tremendous opportunity to utilize web 2.0 tools not only help their child, but also to save time communicating and finding the information they need in their own busy lives. This week’s chat aims to target the ways everyday parents are becoming “connected” and how schools can work together with families to encourage these connections now and in the future. We’ll develop a collaborative gDOC / newsletter insert to provide parents 10 ways to get connected!

Join us this Wednesday night, 10/10 at 9PM EDT. 

New to Twitterchats?

After logging on to Twitter, visit Tweetchat and simply enter “ptchat” in the box at the top. Follow along, just watch and/or participate as you as much as you like to join others around the world in this weekly chat. We look forward to engaging your unique and important parent and/or educator perspective.

This Week’s #PTchat On Twitter

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Parents are the driving force behind their child’s education.  The partnership between the home and school is important in the social and educational development of the child.  As a teacher, I am usually asked the question “How can I help my child?” “How can I assist with the educational process at home so my child can be more successful in school?”  Many times I have these discussions when a child is already in danger of failing.  Although parents have their child’s best interest at heart, they sometimes have difficulty understanding the resources their child needs at home.  Members of the school have the responsibility to provide families with tools and resources so that parents may successfully assist in their child’s education at home.  
Join us this Wednesday, October 3rd at 9pm EDT/6pm PST on #PTChat as we share experiences and tools families need in order to Create an Educational Climate in the Home.  

What Engaged Means – Do Engaged Families Need Support?

Guest Post by Joe Mazza

This week’s Parent-Teacher Chat on Twitter
Wed., 9/26/12 – 9PM EDT / 6PM PST
#ptchat – Tweetchat Link 

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You can find quizzes like the one above all over the Internet. The questions refer to the balancing act of “Tiger Mom” vs. “Dolphin Mom.” While these words are extreme, they do offer a range of perspectives in play in the homes of today’s students.
What effects do each have on children? Can we push a child too far? Ask them to study or practice too much? Where does the responsibility lie in communicating what is best for the student with parents?
Labels like “dolphin,” “helicopter,” & “tiger” used to describe parents can demean the work of well-intentioned parents. The fears of school staff with regard to the uber-engaged parent and how it acts as a barrier to engagement of others is a driving force in staff feelings and opinions about family engagement.
During most #PTchats, we devote time to understanding and improving disengagement. However, it’s equally important to harness the power of the over-engaged. This week, we’ll discuss the strategies to work with those who over-control their children or those who, because of any number of perceptions, make unreasonable or unrealistic demands of their child and or their child’s education. The topic is worthy of discussion and will help us understand and respond to the diverse perspectives we see from day to day, and how to better funnel our family engagement efforts.  

Join us this Wednesday, September 26th at 9PM EDT / 6PM PST for #PTchat. Past chats & resources have been archived here. 

This Week’s #PTChat On Twitter

Guest Post by Joe Mazza

#YouMatter – These two words hold so much power and potential in supporting kids in today’s world. School students come to us with unlimited potential and oftentimes all it takes is for them to feel a little extra support, confidence and love from their parents and educators to help them rise to the occasion. 

This week, we’ve invited @AngelaMaiers to our weekly Parent-Teacher Chat to help provide us the very best strategies in raising self esteem for students everywhere.  Angela’s life path has always been about teaching and communication. Her twenty years as an educator and her passionate pursuit of literacy and learning, gave her a healthy dose of courage and skills that have led to a variety of wonderful experiences, including classroom and University teaching, instructional coaching, research, writing, publishing, corporate training, and starting my own business. More on Angela Maiers can be found on her website here and in her TEDxDesMoines talk below.

Also invited to this discussion is 2012 Blue Ribbon School Principal Tony Sinanis, whose school (Cantiague Elementary), employs multiple “bucket-filling” opportunities for its learning community. We’ll hear from Tony and others on applying these strategies at home and at school.
Please join us on Wednesday night, 9/19 at 9EDT/6PST. Together we’ll create a gDOC school newsletter resource for educators & parents on student self-esteem.  

This Week’s #PTchat On Twitter

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Guest post by #PTchat moderator and New Jersey teacher Dana Sirotiak (@sirotiak02)

As we prepare our students and children for the 21st Century, there is a certain responsibility required when educating students on how to practice safe and responsible usage of online information.

Join us this Wednesday, September 12th at 9pm EDT/6pm PST as we discuss what it means to be a digital citizen and how teachers and parents can develop a partnership to facilitate Internet safety both in school and in the home.  All #PTchat archives/resource gDOCs can be found here

This Week’s #PTChat On Twitter

Guest post by Joe Mazza

She’s back! Dr. Michele Borba returns to #ptchat this Wednesday night at 9pm EDT/6PST to give advice on how parents can help kids get off to a great start this school year!  Here’s the link to last year’s #ptchat conversation on what parents & teachers can do to put an end to bullying.

Dr. Borba (@micheleborba) is an internationally recognized author, speaker and educator on parenting, character education and bullying prevention. Her work aims to help strengthen children’s character and resilience, reduce peer cruelty and create compassionate, just learning cultures.  Her website is a valuable resource for parents and teachers alike.

For one hour on Wednesday night, we will be discussing everything parents can do to support students and teachers early and often this school year.  Join us and provide your best ideas and strategies as well as learn from fellow educators, parents and of course Dr. Borba.

If you have specific questions for Dr. Borba, please send an email ahead of time and we will try to get as many in as possible during the chat. During the chat, we’ll develop a collaborative Google Doc designed to include in September parent newsletters to share out learning. Please invite your school parents & colleagues to this conversation.
Proposed Questions for Dr. Borba:


  • What are some things that families can do at home (& teachers at school) to ease the new school year transition?
  • What are some of the most common fears that kids have at this time of year?
  • How do parents deal with children’s fear of not having friends in their new class/school?
  • How do parents put themselves at ease from worrying about everything from releasing some control over the older (HS & college) kids to trusting the bus driver with our kindergartner?   
  • How to know where the balance is for structure/scheduled activities and free time?
  • What are some good resources for help – people/places, books, websites families can turn to for advice throughout the year?
  • How to handle kids fear of needing material items to fit in at school (from clothing to technology)? Is there a best way?


Planning Your Best Back to School Night Yet!

Guest post by Joe Mazza

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The new school year is here. It’s time to meet your new families and begin developing that strong home-school partnership to lean on throughout the school year. Back to School Night is oftentimes your first impression to set the tone for a fantastic school year.

During this week’s Parent-Teacher chat on Twitter, we’ll share ideas on maximizing these Open House type evenings. Participants should bring past agendas, presentations and resources to share out. Find out what parents feel is the biggest takeaway from this night. Learn how teachers and school leaders make the most of the time allotted while focusing in on building these important relationships. Are students invited or omitted? How do we ensure the focus and tone of the school and/or class is embedded in every minute of this special evening?

Join us this Wednesday, August 29th at 9EDT/6PST for #PTchat’s lively and timely discussion. For more information on all past parent-teacher chats, visit our archive page here. 

This Week’s Parent/Teacher Chat On Twitter

Guest Post By Joe Mazza

This week’s chat brings the most
important lens to the table – our students. Students from
will join us as “experts” to talk about the ways family engagement
impacted their own education growing up.

Student Voice is a grassroots
effort that is comprised of caring students and individuals that believe that
the students should feel empowered and have a stronger voice. You can find them
on Twitter at @Stu_Voice and follow their hashtag at #StuVoice.

As we begin the year looking for
deeper ways to include the voice of the students, here’s a
recent article
to get you thinking by Christopher Thinnes, Director
of the Center for the Future of Elementary Education entitled How Can
We Invite the Voice of Young Students into the Design of Their Learning?
check out 5 Thoughts on Maximizing Student Voice. 

Join us this Wednesday night, 8/23 at 9EDT/6PST as students
share what family engagement means to them, and also teach us how we can hone our practice to include them early and often. 

This Weeks #PTchat – Engaging Families of Students Affected by Autism w/ Wendy Fournier

Guest Post by Joe Mazza

Today, 1 in 88 children are affected autism. Boys are more at risk with a 1 in 54 ratio. Many of us completed coursework in college where the term “autism” wasn’t even on the radar for pre-service teacher training. As a result, in 2012 many school teachers and leaders without specialized training are oftentimes at a loss when it comes to knowing what to do for students affected by autism, as well as how to engage their families.

This week’s Parent-Teacher Chat (#PTchat) on Twitter will look to shed light on what we can do to meet the needs of these students and their families. Joining us on the chat will be National Autism Association President @WendyFournier.

After several years in the promotional products industry, Wendy founded a home-based web development company that allowed her to have a career in web design and be a full-time Mom. Her youngest daughter was diagnosed with autism in 2002. Wendy is committed to changing the perspective of autism from what was once considered a mysterious mental illness to a biologically definable and treatable medical disorder. She attends and speaks at conferences throughout the US. Wendy currently serves on the RI State Commission to study the education of children with autism, as a consumer reviewer for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program for Autism Research through the U.S. Department of Defense.

Please join us this Wednesday night at 9EDT/6PST for #PTchat as we look to engage families of students affected by autism from the very first day of school.

What’s In Your Back to School Letter for Parents? This Week’s Parent-Teacher Chat on Twitter

Guest post by Joe Mazza

What’s In Your Back to School Letter for Parents? This Week’s Parent-Teacher Chat on Twitter

Many educators around the world are currently drafting their first communications out to school families. This week on #ptchat, we’ll discuss what to include in these letters to get families excited about the new year, as well as begin focusing on open two-way communications from the start.

We’ll hear from parents, teachers & school leaders on what are the most important things to include in this first letter/newsletter/blog/post home to families. Here’s a great resource for principals byJonathan Martin – 9 Suggestions for the Back to School Letter.

Join us this Wednesday night at 9PM EDT / 6PM PST as we develop a shared Google Doc of resources & ideas to help us moving forward. We only get to draft one “Back to School Letter” each year. Make this one your best ever.

#PTchat 8/1/12 – Principal As Family Engagement Deal-Breaker

Guest Post by Joe Mazza

Each year, schools have the opportunity to engage and re-engage families in the education of their children. The success of these efforts depend on many things including but not limited to current and past strategies put in place, leadership, current and past relationship with family and community stakeholders, access, fear, socio-economic status and school/district policies in place. However, if the building principal is not fully invested in ongoing relationship-building and differentiating for the needs of the school families, the best plans will fail and any home-school advancements will be limited at best. The school leader is the key player to best practice family & community engagement at your school.

During this Wednesday night’s Parent-Teacher Chat (#ptchat), parents, teachers and leaders will discuss the following six keys for success. Join us at 9PM EDT / 6PM PST for a lively discussion with the creation of a Google Doc for school leaders to use in planning for the new school year. 

According to the CCS Principals Share What Works in Community & Family Engagement study, the following six keys to community engagement were identified as a guide for school leaders in engaging school families. 

1–Know Where You’re Going

Create a vision of what your school should look like and develop a plan for how to get there. Begin by seeking input from school staff, families, partners, and community residents. Any vision must incorporate the diverse interests of all members of the school and community. Make sure that the vision’s goals and objectives are broadly owned.

2–Share Leadership

Invite those partners from the community who share your school’s vision to also share resources, expertise, and accountability for targeted objectives. Work deliberately with staff, families, and the community to reach established goals.

3–Reach Out

Learn about the community and become a visible presence in it. Listen to what families say they want—not just what others think they need. Respond honestly. Make changes that advance the school’s vision.

4–Don’t Ignore the Elephant in the Room

Acknowledge and address issues of race and class and define diversity as a strength. Create opportunities for honest conversations about differences from the earliest stages of vision building. Distinguish between assumptions and facts.

5–Tell Your School’s Story

Know how to make your school’s vision come alive. Use stories and data to engage all kinds of community groups in conversations about why public education matters and what they can do to help. Create the political will to support school efforts.

6–Stay on Course

Only engage in partnerships that are demonstrably aligned with your school’s vision, goals, and objectives. Regularly assess your progress. Focus on long-term sustainability.

New to Twitterchats? 

After logging on to Twitter, visit Tweetchat ( and simply enter “ptchat” in the box at the top. Follow along and participate as you as much as you like to join others around the world in this weekly chat. We look forward to engaging your unique and important parent and/or educator perspectives.  Past #PTchats have been archived here. 

This Week’s Parent-Teacher Chat (#ptchat) on Twitter

Guest Post By Joe Mazza

“Helping Families Cope with Tragedy”

This Week’s Parent-Teacher Chat (#ptchat) on Twitter

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those dealing with the horrific Colorado theatre shooting that occurred this past Friday night. Many lost their lives and were injured physically and emotionally as a result. In times like this, schools can offer a great deal of support for families.

During this week’s #ptchat our conversational goal is to provide parents and teachers with as many strategies to as possible in supporting students and families during the hardest of times. During the chat, we’ll use our tweeted ideas to develop a shared Google doc for schools to use/update throughout the school year.  A copy of our resource/idea document will also be sent to Aurora area schools to support them as they prepare to welcome students back to school who directly or indirectly will have experienced a horrific tragedy as a community.

Join us this Wednesday, July 25th at 9PM EDT / 6PM PST as parents and teacher build a working document to help schools and families deal with sudden tragedies.

New to Twitterchats?

After logging on to Twitter, visit Tweetchat ( and simply enter “ptchat” in the box at the top. Follow along and participate as you as much as you like to join others around the world in this weekly chat. We look forward to engaging your unique and important parent and/or educator perspectives.  Past #PTchats have been archived here. 

This Week’s Parent-Teacher Chat (#ptchat) on Twitter

Guest post by Joe Mazza

Engaging Grandparents & Family Friends in Our Schools

Every child’s “home” is different. When I was growing up in the early 1980s in a middle class suburb of Philadelphia, I remember seeing my grandparents several times per week, and even spent weeks at a time with them. My grandparents were instrumental in supporting my parents in their childcare needs while they worked to give my brother and I what we needed and more as children. I learned many things from them including the how to enjoy myself on vacation, how to camp and fish – life skills I hope to instill in my own children and grandchildren.

Last summer, EdWeek’s Sarah Sparks wrote a piece that shed light on a growing trend of grandparents as the main parents for more and more children.

Today, some 7.8 million children live with at least one grandparent in the household as of 2009, up from 4.7 million in 1991, a 64 percent jump, and such children make up a larger share of the population as well. Grandparents are the most common child-care providers for families after parents, particularly for young children. The Census Bureau also found the average time children spent in their grandparents’ care also increased, from 13 hours a week in 2005 to 14 to 16 hours per week in 2006.

With different-looking “homes” from family to family, as parents and teachers we must continue to differentiate for these differences, and meet other parents AND grandparents where they are.

Join us this Wednesday, July 18th 9PM EDT / 6PM PST for Parent-Teacher Chat #ptchat as we dig deeper into these trends and provide strategies and resources for schools and parent groups in meeting these challenges.

This Week’s Parent-Teacher Chat (#ptchat) on Twitter

Guest post  by Joe Mazza

This Week’s Parent-Teacher Chat (#ptchat) on Twitter

Creating a Bank of 2-Way Communication Offerings Between Home & School

On this week’s #ptchat our conversational goal is to provide educators with as many classroom and school-based two-way (home-school) communication offerings as possible. At the end of the chat, we’ll use those “tweets” to develop a shared Google Doc for schools to use/update throughout the 12-13 school year.

Communication is evident when educators and families “…communicate about school programs and student progress in varied, clear and productive ways. Create two-way communication channels from school to home and from home to school, so that families can easily keep in touch with teachers, administrators, counselors and other families” (Epstein, 2011). Below are the rest of Epstein’s Six Types of Involvement.

1. Parenting, in which schools help families with their parenting skills by providing information on children’s developmental stages and offering advice on learning-friendly home environments;

2. Communicating, or working to educate families about their child’s progress and school services and providing opportunities for parents to communicate with the school;

3. Volunteering, which ranges from offering opportunities for parents to visit their child’s school to finding ways to recruit and train them to work in the school or classroom;

4. Learning at home, in which schools and educators share ideas to promote at-home learning through high expectations and strategies so parents can monitor and help with homework.

5. Decision-making, in which schools include families as partners in school organizations, advisory panels, and similar committees.

6. Community collaboration, a two-way outreach strategy in which community or business groups are involved in education and schools encourage family participation in the community.

Communication can travel in a variety of ways. The two most common ways are one-way and two-way. One-way communication is limited because it is linear or occurs in a straight line from the sender to the receiver. This type of communication serves strictly to inform, persuade or command.

Two-way communication is different because it includes feedback from the receiver back to the sender. Two-way communication is negotiated, meaning that both the sender and receiver listen to each other and gather information they need before responding. They are also willing to make changes to work together.

Join us this Wednesday, July 11th at 9PM EDT / 6PM PST as parents and teacher build a working document to support two-way home-school communication efforts.

This Week’s Parent Teacher Chat On Twitter

Guest Post by Joe Mazza

#PTchat 6/27/12 – Will the Karen Klein Bus Ride Fuel the Changes Needed on Today’s School Buses

A few days ago, the world didn’t know much about who Karen Klein was. As I draft his post, the horrific video embedded below has almost a million views. The vulgar, disrespectful and inhumane behavior on display by several student bus riders in the Greece Central School District in NY raises more than a few questions that need to be flushed out by parents and educators to promote solutions for all school bus riders. One of my first thoughts was, “I wonder how bad the kids at school get it if that’s how they treat an adult.” During this week’s parent-teacher chat (#ptchat on Twitter), we’ll discuss the following questions and others:
  1. What kind of behavior is expected of students on the bus (and at bus stop) toward other students and adults? Do we have the right measures in place to meet these expectations?
  2. What training should be in place for both students and staff who ride/drive school buses?
  3. How can schools, the transportation department and famlies work together to keep students and staff safe on a daily basis? Where do we fall short?

I’ve asked #ptchat’s bus expert and past guest, Jim Dillon former principal and author of Hazeldon’s Peaceful Bus Program to join us for this conversation. The program he designed (we implement in NPSD) supports the four rules of bullying see in the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program. Please join us on Wednesday, June 27th at 9PM EDT for this important conversation as we commit to making school buses and neighborhood bus stops a safer place for all.

This Week’s Parent Teacher Chat On Twitter

Upcoming #PTchat: Awards Assemblies – Good for Kids?

Wed., 6/20/12 at 9PM EDT

During this week’s Parent-Teacher Chat (#PTchat), we’ll discuss the “Awards Assembly,” as for many of us, this event is fresh in our minds.

Our school has done an End of Year Awards Assembly for many years, but in recent years, my staff and I have noticed some commonalities that we need to hold more parent and teacher conversation on.

After reading some of the resources shared by elementary principal Christopher Wejr (@MrWejr) on his “Rethinking Awards Assemblies” page, in particular “Death of An Awards Assembly,” it might be time for more parents and educators to talk about the pros and cons of this event. Depending on the school, this event occurs between 1-8x per year. What are the benefits? What are the downfalls? Elementary versus secondary? Now’s the time to begin thinking/planning/fine-tuning in preparation of the 12-13 school year.

Join us this Wednesday, June 20th at 9PM EDT / 6PM CST for #PTchat, where we’ll discuss Awards Assemblies in great detail. All #PTchats are archived here for your easy review.

This Week’s #PTchat – Bring Your Own Topic

Guest Post by Joe Mazza

On Wednesday, June 13th, the #PTchat crew will provide an open chat session to close out the school year and help you create a summer plan to take your family engagement efforts to the next level in 2012-2013. 

We’ve covered a great deal of topics this school year. Below are all the 12-13 #PTchat topics and archived chats. What is the biggest family engagement strength at your school? What do you hope to improve upon in 12-13? Join us for a planning session on Wednesday night at 9PM EDT / 6PM PST. 


This Week’s Parent Teacher Chat On Twitter

Guest Post by Joe Mazza

Upcoming #PTchat: Raising Kids to Be Good Cyber Citizens with Annie Fox

Wed., 6/6/12 at 9PM EDT


Annie Fox joins #PTchat this Wednesday night, June 6th at 9PM EDT to discuss the ways parents and teachers can raise kids to be good cyber citizens. We will discuss appropriate strategies for  students in kindergarten through high school during our one hour chat.

Mrs. Fox is a respected educator, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser. Her life’s work is helping teens become more self-aware, self-confident and better able to make choices that reflect who they really are. She does it through Q&Aevents at schools, and books like her Middle School Confidential™ series.

Annie is also committed to working with parents and teachers. Part of that effort recognizes that 21st century children require 21st century parenting and mentoring. Annie’s live events and her “Family Confidential” podcast series teach adults how to give teens what they need for healthy social/emotional development in middle school and beyond.

Join us this Wednesday night, 6/6/12 at 9PM EDT for Parent-Teacher Chat (#PTchat) All #PTchats are archived here for your easy review.