When I first became a Trustee on the Toronto District School Board you couldn’t find a school’s phone number without looking up the local government section of the phone book. (Remember those ancient books?)
It’s a different story now – never before have there been so many communication tools readily available to us. Nevertheless, Leaside parents hunger for even more and better communication.
All our schools send out newsletters electronically and maintain websites. Some principals and individual teachers also tweet about their programs. For example, teachers such as Rachel Standing at Bessborough Drive EMS (@rachelstanding), Laura Plum at Rolph Road ES (@MsPlumsClass) and Jennifer Capes at Northlea EMS (@ms_capes) regularly use Twitter. They give us great insight into everyday life inside our classrooms.
The report card is still the primary source of communication about student achievement; however, I strongly recommend that parents also have face-to-face interaction with their children’s teachers. That personal connection can capture important information the restricted confines of the report card cannot. Some news: next year new report cards will showcase skills such as creativity and critical thinking.
Sophia Danish, principal of Bennington Heights, says, “Parents volunteering in the school communicate the importance of working together with teachers. Parents not only invigorate the school by undertaking concrete tasks such as the Fun Fair, and graduations, but also share that positive experience with other parents, thus promoting and strengthening collaboration and communication between home
As to sharing information between the central TDSB and community members – that can be a challenge. Mindful of delivery cost of reports sent to homes, I no longer send paper reports. Instead, I send electronic newsletters and bulletins. If you wish to receive them, contact me at Gerri.firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up on my webpage www.tdsb.on.ca/Ward13.
Along with informal encounters when I visit schools, I meet formally with parents on a regular basis, in the evenings at ward forums at various schools and during the daytime at Longo’s on Laird in the community room.
The TDSB issues information through local schools and the director hosts teleconferences – all are welcome to join in. We also live stream our board meetings. Community Advisory Committees have been established to improve community input on policy and program issues and provide an advocacy role for parents and the community. Check out Community – How Do I Get Involved (www.tdsb.on.ca/Community/How-to-Get-Involved).
Also check out the TDSB website, www.tdsb.on.ca. The TDSB uses Twitter regularly (@tdsb) as I do (@gerrigershon).
Gerri Gershon is the Trustee, Don Valley West, for the Toronto District School Board.