The Importance of Smart Parents

Earlier this year, I shared a post I had written for Huffington Post, as part of Getting Smart’s Smart Parent series. In it, I wrote about the importance of fathers being actively involved in their kids’ lives. That included their academic/school lives. From my perspective (and I can only write about what I’ve experienced with my own two kids), technology can’t replace an involved parent. But an involved parent can dramatically increase the impact of ed tech, particularly as it relates to student learning.

At the time, I wrote:

But the real power of the technology comes from understanding what is happening in class, from seeing my kids’ strengths and knowing how to supplement what is happening. It comes from seeing where they struggle and embracing where they soar. Such determinations can’t be made from a report card or an email from the teacher or a quick review of the evening’s homework. They require hands-on knowledge that comes from being in the classroom, watching the learning process.

That essay, along with a great number of other pieces Getting Smart inspired for its Smart Parents series, is now part of a new book coming out soon. The book is available for pre-order now, and you can learn more about it here.

Big thanks to Getting Smart, Huffington Post, and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation for making this book happen and for advocating for such an important (and often neglected) topic–the role of parents in the educational development of children.

When asked why this book and project was so important, I told Tom Vander Ark and company:

There is nothing more powerful than an engaged, informed parent. Smart Parents: Parenting for Powerful Learning provides all families – regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or zip code — the tools and resources they need to be effective advocates and inspiring teachers for their kids. Successful learners need smart parents supporting and encouraging them.

And I meant every word. Parents, pre-order, receive, and then read the book. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Fathers and the Learning Process

Over at Getting Smart, they are running a new Smart Parents series that looks at parent perspectives on many topics exploring the future of education. One of those topics is what relationships help drive the learning process. And this week, dear ol’ Eduflack has a piece that explores how fathers are an important driver in the learning process. For this piece, I put on my Dadprovement hat, reflecting on some of the parenting lessons that have come as a result of my award-winning Dadprovement book.

As I conclude in the piece:

Last year, there was a study in Psychological Science that found that daughters aspire to greater professional goals when they see their fathers doing tasks such as washing the dishes. Consider that for a moment. A young girl has a better chance of become a CEO or governor of even president if she sees her dad at the sink, scrubbing away at the remnants of dinner.

If that’s true, imagine the possibilities for all of those girls (and boys) who see their dads volunteering in school or visiting the classroom, right alongside all of the moms they come to expect. Imagine how much more interesting that science project looks when dad is in the class to help. Or how intriguing the field trip can be with dad leading a group. Or how that device can be transformed from a Netflix machine to a learning device that opens up new worlds and unlimited possibilities.

I hope you’ll give the full piece a read here. And I really hope you give the #SmartParents series a deeper look. It is definitely worth the time, and provides some interesting perspectives on school improvement and technology in learning.

Imagine What a Father Could Do …

This week, I was in Austin talking about my Dadprovement book, fatherhood, and parental engagement at #SXSWedu. Had a tremendous time, and met a growing number of folks eager to see dads more involved in their kids’ school lives. 

I’ll reflect more on that over the weekend. But I wanted to share the following. Typically, when I give speeches, I work without text and without notes. Partly due to habit, partly due to dyslexia, it is just easier for me to think in advance about what I want to say and then just let ‘er rip once I get there. 

So I’m thankful for one of the audience members for capturing this nugget from my presentation. I was referencing a recent study ther found the girls who observed their dads washing dishes were ultimately more successful than their peers who did not. 

And special thanks to Ethan Demme from Demme Learning for capturing the photo. 

(Also posted on the Dadprovement blog.)



Engagin’ in Austin

We’ve talked about SXSWedu in this space before. It is part Woodstock, part prom for all of those who spend their waking hours thinking about education issues and how technology and innovation and social change can influence what is happening at our educational institutions.

Well, I’m thrilled to announce that Eduflack will be speaking at this year’s SXSWedu conference in Austin in March. On Tuesday, March 10, I’ll be leading a solo session on the importance of parental engagement. More specifically, my Forget Leaning In, We Need to Dadprove session looks at how we “need to inspire a generation of men to realize what they can and should do as dads, being active in their children’s lives and involved in their learning processes.”

The presentation will be based on my Dadprovement book, which examined the topic from about as personal a perspective as possible, me and my own family.

We’ve all heard the stories. Women are told they can’t have it all, so they need to “lean in,” and all but forget about families if they want to be successes. Men pretend they have both, but largely go through the motions on the home front (or on forums like Facebook” to appear like the ideal. And what happens when a father falls from a high-profile position? He inevitably announces he is departing for “family reasons,” until we can regroup and get back on that career ladder.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. And it shouldn’t. When we talk achievement gaps and student learning outcomes and college/career ready and our hopes and dreams for our kids, we can only help our children achieve it when we are all truly active and engaged parents. We need to be active, invested participants in the process, recognizing that parenthood is the most important job we will have, or at least the job with the greatest potential impact.

If you’re down in Austin for SXSWedu, be sure to check out my session. I’m the solo act for the 1:10 slot that Tuesday. You’ll never forgive yourself if you miss it. (and I’ll even have some free books for those who check it out)

Dadprovement and the Stargazer Literary Prize

Over on my Dadprovement blog, I just shared some terrific news. As many Eduflack readers know, last year, Turning Stone Press released my book Dadprovement, a story that chronicles the adoption of our two children from Guatemala and my personal quest to understand what it really meant to be a good dad.

It is a book that I am deeply proud of. It wasn’t an easy story to write. It is quite emotional, and even raw in some places. But it was an important story for me to tell, while providing valuable lessons for fathers (and parents in general) as they try to “have it all” and provide the “perfect” family.

Oh yes, the news. Each year, the Stargazer Literary Prize recognizes “life-changing fiction and non-fiction.” The awards go to written works that “demonstrated outstanding ability to courageously communicate pressing issues, provide insights into the human dilemma, and inspire the spirit.”

I’m incredibly proud, and quite humbled, to share that Stargazer Literary Prize just named Dadprovement as one of its Honorable Mention winners. The book was recognized in the “Mind, Body, and Spirit” category. You can see the full write-up here.

Many thanks to all of those who have been so supportive of the book to date. And if you’re a fan, it is never too late to go onto Amazon and give the book a glowing review. And for those itching to read the book, particularly after learning of this award, I am more than happy to send you a copy as long as you promise to write one of those five-star reviews. 🙂 Just let me know.

Cast Your SxSWedu Votes Now!

It’s that time of year! Only a few more weeks left to have your say in some of the edu-panels that will be on the docket for next year’s SxSWedu event.

As always, there are tons of terrific ideas out there. But not every good idea gets a time slot. They need the backing of the audience as well. So it means you need to go to the SxSW PanelPicker and give a great big thumbs up to those sessions you think are worthy of SxSWedu.

When we go to the ballot box, we usually face a gauntlet of folks handing us sample ballots of those we should vote for. SxSWedu is no different. Take a gander over at Twitter and you can see tons of folks lobbying for their sessions. All can be found at #SxSWedu.

Your cheat sheet is here, though. Three panels worth your consideration and your endorsement:

Disruptive Change in Higher Ed: Replace or Repair?

In the digital age, higher education, willingly or unwillingly, will undergo disruptive change. Existing institutions can lead the change or become its victim. If higher education resists, new digital institutions will be established to meet the needs of the time. Tradition simply cannot save a college or university unwilling to adapt or unable to learn from those who adapted previously. It will explore what disruptive innovation really means for higher education in the 21st century learning.

Forget Leaning In, We Need to Dadprove

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Pepsi’s Indra Nooyi have preached the merits of “leaning in.” But if we are serious about boosting student achievement and inspiring successful children, we need less leaning in and more fathers who are “diving in” to their families. Instead of encouraging more to prioritize work over family, we need to inspire a generation of men to realize what they can and should do as dads, being active in their children’s lives and involved in their learning process. (Fair warning, this is a presentation by dear ol’ Eduflack)

Tech x Teacher Prep x Disruption = Student Success

In different ways, these panelists are leaders challenging the status quo in education to help teachers and students today and tomorrow. They understand a continued rise in teacher attrition is a huge problem for all, and solutions come in the form of a smart intersection of tools and technology, support, education and mentorship. Successful teachers help us get to student success, and leadership in learning takes on new meaning when this group covers what it will take to get us there and why.

Each one unique. Each one important. Each one worthy of your endorsement. Vote early. Vote often. And make sure you vote for these sessions for SxSWedu 2015!

Dadprovement Book, the E-Version!

Wahoowah! After more than a week of having the hard copy of my Dadprovement book available for sale, the release heads into the 21st century today. This morning, Amazon officially made the book available for Kindle. You can get it now, and have it for some of those last summer beach reads before the start of the school year!

I am enormously grateful for all of the folks who have read this Eduflack blog over the past nearly eight years. What started out as a cathartic exercise has really become something, something I am proud of and something that has allowed me to meet and engage with a wonderful group of people.

So for those Eduflack readers, I am going to make 15 e-versions of Dadprovement available for free. The first 15 people to DM message me at eduflack@eduflack.com or to comment on this blog post will be sent a free Kindle version of my new book. 

All I ask is that, after you’ve read it, you post a (hopefully positive) review of Dadprovement on Amazon. Calling it “life changing” or “inspirational” or “the best book on fathers and Guatemalan adoption I have ever read or ever thought of reading” is optional, but encouraged.

Happy reading!

 

“Why is a 40 Year Old Lady Reading Dadprovement?”

Over at my Dadprovement blog, I have a post of a recent review for my new book. Just wanted to share:

I am moved every time I hear from folks who tell me how much they enjoyed Dadprovement, how much they learned from it, or how surprising the story was.

I was particularly taken by a blog post Amber Chandler posted on her blog today.

In her post entitled, So why is a 40 year old lady reading Dadprovement?, Amber not only highlighted our family story of infertility, adoption, job loss, and gastric bypass surgery, but she keyed in on part of the tale I particularly enjoy:

ADMIT IT. YOU’RE PROBABLY JUST LIKE ME. EVER READ THOSE FACEBOOK POSTS AND THINK, “CRAP. I THINK I PICKED THE WRONG CAREER (LOCATION, VACATION, SPOUSE, FRIENDS, ETC)”? I THINK POP CULTURE HAS PRETTY MUCH ADMITTED, EVEN TO ITSELF, THAT FB STATUSES AREN’T REAL IN AN AUTHENTIC WAY; HOWEVER, THE FACTS REMAIN, YOU CAN’T POST THE PICTURE OF YOUR BRAND NEW BMW IF YOU DON’T ACTUALLY HAVE ONE. SOME THINGS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES. PICTURES FROM THE CARIBBEAN–WITH YOU IN THEM–DO GIVE A PRETTY LOUD SHOUT OUT.

PATRICK RICCARDS, WELL-KNOWN FOR HIS AWARD-WINNING BLOG EDUFLACK, HAS WRITEEN DADPROVEMENT, A BOOK THAT AT FIRST GLANCE MIGHT NOT “APPLY” TO ME. I HAVE TWO CHILDREN OF MY OWN, AND MOTHERHOOD IS PLENTY FOR ME TO CONTEMPLATE. THOUGH FOCUSED IN LARGE WAYS ON HIS JOURNEY TO ADOPT HIS CHILDREN, IT GETS TO THE CORE OF THE VERY 1ST WORLD PROBLEM OF “WHAT AM I GOING TO BE WHEN I GROW UP” AND “WHAT WILL EVERYONE THINK OF ME?” IF YOU LIVE IN AMERICA, AND ARE TAKING TIME TO READ A BLOG, I’M PRETTY CONVINCED YOU’D KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HE MEANS.

Thank you, Amber, for the kind words. And for your commitment as a teacher and edu-twitterer.