Students, Parents, and School Connections
Children are very astute and immediately know if you really care about them. Start at the beginning. Before school starts each year find a way to communicate a welcome to your class. Don’t laugh, but I sent out picture post cards to my incoming official class years ago as a welcome. It was a small investment that did pay dividends.
Learn student names, even if you need to print them out phonetically as a reminder. Make a conscious effort each day to greet students by name and talk to them. Teachers aren’t mind readers, so have them either speak, or hand you a note if anything was bothering them, or if they had something they needed to share.
Again, at the very start of every school year, connect with parents, too. I sent parents/guardians a welcoming letter explaining what I would be doing with their children along with my expectations for work and conduct. I also gave them some organizational tips, as well as study techniques for their children to practice. It is now even more important to find the best way each parent/guardian wants to be contacted. It might be texting, emailing, or the old fashioned sending a letter home in a backpack folder, or telephone calling.
Technology has given us some wonderful ways we can communicate with parents, which we should be doing on a regular basis. Parents want to know how and what their children are doing and not just at parent-teacher meetings, or report card time. Recently ClassDojo, a free service, came out with a great new feature that enables teachers and parents to easily and meaningfully communicate about student progress. Other ways to communicate include Remind101 and Portfoliyo.
If you make those connections with your students and their parents it will definitely help facilitate the learning and growth that takes place for the students in your classroom.
Jerry Blumengarten is @Cybraryman1 on Twitter. Jerry is a lifelong educator, who has devoted himself to helping other educators, and he is a regular at Connect Learning Today. He is a prolific gatherer of great education resources at http://cybraryman.com