Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Using the Internet to Reach Parents: A 'How-To' Training

Magazine article National Association of School Psychologists. Communique

Using the Internet to Reach Parents: A 'How-To' Training

Article excerpt

It is an ongoing and universal struggle for school psychologists to reach parents. Parents are busy, often multitasking the responsibilities of careers, families, and children. Increasingly, schools are relying upon the Internet to help with effective communications. Many schools contact parents by e-mail with e-newsletters and emergency information. Parents can access school websites for general information such as school calendars and special events as well as specific information about homework, projects, and attendance records. Individual teachers are also starting to utilize the Internet with programs that allow them to post student grades, assignments, or even content to assist parents in helping their children with homework. School websites are also an effective way to provide information in multiple languages, thereby supporting the needs of non-English speaking parents.

More and more, parents are first going to their school's website as a point of information. School psychologists would benefit from joining this movement as well. Having professional webpages on district or school website (s) can help school psychologists communicate the messages and information that they would like parents to see.

WHAT SHOULD PARENTS KNOW?

Many stakeholders, especially parents, are not aware of who school psychologists are and what they do. Too often school psychologists are brought into cases only after a situation has escalated. Finding an easy, universal means to reach out to parents early in the school relationship is essential. Making this connection is critical, particularly as school psychologists' roles become more broadly defined to include activities such as consultation, problem solving, and mental health services. Having a presence on a school's website will help parents see school psychologists as an accessible resource in the school, like teachers, counselors, or administrators.

Even the most tech-sawy school psychologists who use e-mail, Excel, and PowerPoint on a regular basis maybe intimidated by the notion of creating a webpage. They can see it as time-intensive or technical. Some worry that their "product" will be too unsophisticated. With so many tasks on their professional plate, busy school psychologists may worry that once a webpage is created, they might not be able to maintain it. In an effort to help school psychologists conquer their website fears and to be able to reach even more of the parents and children they serve, NASP provides "How To" information and adaptable parent articles for easy online posting, available at the link identified at the end of this article.

CREATING A 'HOW TO' TRAINING

Technology is an increasingly essential part of school psychologists' daily practice. To facilitate competence of school psychologists in this area, Maryland's Howard County Public School System Department of Psychological Services hosted a professional development day during the 2007-2008 school year dedicated to technology. Several school psychologists expressed a desire for more information on creating and maintaining webpages, recognizing the need to have a presence on school websites. The district's Public Relations committee, including the authors of this article, were approached to facilitate this training. It is important to note that members of this committee were not experts in webpage design or even technology in general. Coordinating this training required a bit of research and self-teaching.

Like many districts across the country, the Howard County Public School System utilizes a district-wide e-mail system to facilitate communication among staff as well as with the community. Many of the district's school psychologists were not aware that this simple tool also provided them with the capability to create individual webpages. The training was designed as a workshop rather than as a didactic lesson. All participants were asked to bring their laptops to the training. …

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