Parents, Share Your Story: How Do You Empower Student Learning?

Tom Vander Ark

It has never been easier to learn. Formal and informal learning options abound. The opportunity set has never been greater. But, as opportunities and options explode, families are faced with unprecedented amounts of decisions related to education. Parents are supporting their children in navigating an often complex maze of new learning opportunities, new standards, new assessments, and new technology.

At Getting Smart, we focus on innovations in learning and how those innovations impact students, personalize learning and increase student engagement. Our new project, Smart Parents, a blog series and culminating book, seeks to combine parental wisdom with experts from the field about how to recognize, create and advocate for powerful, student-centered learning opportunities. We have partnered with the Nellie Mae Education Foundation to tell parents' stories and to bring together key lessons to create a resource that will help guide important educational decisions facing parents today.

We are inviting parents to share their stories about a powerful learning experience.

Share your story with a short blog (400 to 800 words) in six categories:

Student engagement
  • Tell us about a period of time when your student was highly engaged in learning. What do you think contributed most to this engagement?
  • Tell us about the role technology has played in increasing engagement in learning. What do you think contributed most to this engagement?
  • Tell us about relationships. Share a story about how a relationship you or your student had that contributed to a powerful, personalized learning experience. This could be a relationship with a teacher, mentor and/or community member.
Student interests
  • Tell us about your student's school. How has the school helped encourage and foster student interests in and out of school? How has this impacted your student and their engagement in school?
  • If your child is not in a traditional school, tell us about their learning environment at home or elsewhere. Describe how and why you've set up this unique learning environment for your child and the role technology played in the learning environment.
  • Tell us about the role technology has played in activating your student's interests outside of school. What impact has this had on their education?
Student path & pace
  • Tell us about people and/or policies in your area that have supported your student in learning at their own pace and along their own path. What was the role of technology in supporting this learning?
  • Tell us a story about a time when your student moved at their own pace or along their own path through learning. Did technology play in supporting your student in pacing? If so, please describe this advantage.
Student place
  • Tell us about specific internships, mentorships, or other outside of school experiences and how this helped your student in their education. What policies have encouraged anytime-anywhere learning at your student's school?
  • Talk to us about the role of technology in helping students learn outside of school. Tell us about where your student learns (home, internship, online, work, etc).
  • For high school students, what role do you have in helping your student selecting and taking an online course. How do you monitor, help, support, etc?
Raising kids
  • Talk to us about digital technology generally. How do you make decisions related to use of technology at home and at school? e.g. What are ways you help your student balance screen time with other activities?
  • How do you help to challenge your student?
  • Do you plan valuable learning experiences as a family? What conversations do you have before, during, and after family experiences?
  • Tell us about ways in which you nurture a positive mindsets-perseverance, initiative, and collaboration.
  • What informal experiences have you sought to help supplement traditional in-school learning ("maker mindset", field trips, clubs, the arts, STEM)?
  • What do you look for when choosing a formal or informal learning opportunity for your student? (school, camp, course, etc)
  • Share the tools you use for tracking your student's educational progress and learning, 'hacks' for homework, and ways you manage the routines.
  • What top 5 educational resources would you suggest to a parent with children your student's age? Where do you turn for info and who do you trust? What resources do you wish there were more of?

Email with your contribution and questions with the subject line Smart Parents.

Read and follow the guest posting policy on Blogs often include a story, links to additional resources, and a concluding call to action.

Images/video: If there are images or videos you'd like to include in your blog, please send them along.

Please share with any parents you know and help spread the word and join the conversation on social media using #SmartParents.

For more information about the project see other blogs in our series:

Tom Vander Ark is founder and CEO of Getting Smart. He is also a partner in Learn Capital and a director of iNACOL, Digital Learning Institute, Imagination Foundation, Charter Board Partners, Strive for College, and Bloomboard.