- Bringing Project Based Learning to our Classroom - August 12, 2018
- Keep the Engagement Alive: Start the Year with Purpose - August 5, 2018
- It's Our Fault: A Teacher's Confession - March 18, 2018
- Keeping Your Teaching Real: A Teacher's Role - March 11, 2018
- Sketch Notes in the Elementary Classroom - February 15, 2017
- Teach From the Heart - February 9, 2017
- Who is the Teacher: School or Family? - January 11, 2017
- Dear President Elect Trump, From Your Teachers - November 17, 2016
- Let them Be Children - October 21, 2016
- Print Resources: Great Tools for Kids - October 17, 2016
My children are the center of my world…my personal children. The three amazing and challenging creatures I gave birth to and live in my home. Often when talking with my mom and sharing stories she will say, “Oh, you were talking about your classroom, weren't you?” There is a fine line. Our classroom kids are like our own. But at the end of each day we send them home. We send them to parents and families where they continue their day. An often overlooked resource we have to help with our children is their parents. Parent teacher communication is the key to a successful and productive year.
Communication is the key. If we want parents to support us at home, we must provide them with the tools, vocabulary and resources they need to do that job. This starts at the very beginning of the school year by providing them with your contact information. I know it seems simple, we work at a school. The telephone number is s in the phone book, it's online- it’s right there. But it is so much more inviting to be provided with contact information than to have to go hunt it up. This can be done quickly and easily on a computer. Turn it into a bookmark, business card, or a magnet. Provide your full name, your plan time, your school phone number with extension, your email. If you are comfortable with sharing your personal contact information (such as your phone number) put that on there as well. If you have a website, Facebook page, blog or other online network you post classroom information to, share that as well. Hand this to parents when you first meet them, shake their hand and say, “Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.”
Ms. Lori Rice
Wamego, KS 66547
785.456.8333 ext 123
Throughout the year provide parents with the information you want them to have and be talking about at home. We know students need to have repetition (and more repetition) to learn new material. We know they need to be exposed to thing repeatedly. Use the time they are outside of your classroom to help them continue learning. Put information on your classroom website, classroom blog, classroom newsletter, classroom Facebook page, and in email communications to parents. Give them links to games, articles, eBooks and activities that support your curriculum. Share with families what you are doing in class. A picture is worth a thousand words and can spark more conversation than a well-planned out explanation. Give parents a list of important subject vocabulary with definitions you are using with students. Share your classroom objectives with them. Having this information will allow parents to ask questions and start conversations at home. This gives students time to reflect, review, and discuss this information outside of your classroom--learning beyond the classroom walls.
I have been having great success this year having my students create help me communicate. Each week we do a weekly review and students summarize the major vocabulary words or objectives from each subject in my classroom. These are put into a PowerPoint or other media form and shared on our classroom blog. I have students take pictures of things in our classroom and I post pictures of our activities. These communication tools spark conversation and the students remember to ask at home: Did you see what I did? Did you look at the blog?
Parent teacher conferences are also optimal times to share information with parents. I like to provide parents with a list of topics they may want to consider before coming to conferences. This is not an exhaustive list, but some things to get the conversation started and relationships built.
• Academic progress and growth
• Student behavior and attitudes towards school, peers, and adults
• Classroom participation and work habits
• Special interests or talents exhibited in the classroom
• Technology and books used in the classroom
• What can be done at home to help
• Concerns about school that the student has shared at home
• Concerns or changes at home that may affect their student’s performance in school
It is important to have evidence of anything you are sharing with parents either positive or negative. Share students work samples, journal entries, projects, testing, and things they have done in school. This then naturally leads to the support of, “As you have seen in their work…” and you can show parents what you want them to know and understand about their student.
Technology is a wonderful resource that can help increase parent communication as well. I have started using an app this year Remind101. This allows me to text parents about upcoming tests, events, or projects. They do not ever see my number and I don’t ever see theirs. With so many people having their phones at all times, it is an easy way to give a shout out about what we are doing. Again, give parents the information you want them to have so they can be saying what you want them to say at home. The other wonderful thing is you can send one email, post one blog, update one website and have the majority (if not all) parents included.
I am not Pollyanna, did I just date myself there? I know there are families that have negative concepts of education and teachers in general. I know that is what is discussed at home. I know not every family gets on the computer, reads my blog, looks at the email, or signs up for the text reminder. However, I also know that it reaches some students and I know that it works for some families. If just one student is using these resources my efforts are not in vain. Communication is a two way street. Respect parents and the extremely hard work they are doing. Communicate openly with them about what is going on in your classroom. Share with them the hard work you are doing. Parent teacher communication is the key to a successful and productive year.