It got me thinking, I have been teaching for 12 years and have learned so much over those years. I also started thinking about what my show would be about if I was on the network. I thought and thought, what is my best teacher skill? I feel I work super hard at student engagement. I have more work to do in that area but I really care about whether my students are "with me" or not and whether they are understanding and retaining the information I am delivering.
I work hard at teaching higher level skills that go above and beyond the district expectations. I want my students leaving me at above skill level in all academic areas. I want them able to present to others without feeling nervous. I want them able to hold a positive and thoughtful conversation with others. I want them to have great teamwork skills. So, we practice all of that through the year.
The other thing I work hard on is parent communication. When I first started teaching, I was awful at communicating with families. I was scared to talk to the parents. I don't know why, but I was. I didn't want anyone mad at me if their child was misbehaving or performing poorly in academic areas. Then I had more experience as an educator, various discussions with parents and the biggie- I had my own children. That changed everything. I began to realize that parents want to know everything about their child. I have worked in schools that had families from all backgrounds from extreme poverty to extreme wealth and they all want to know about their child. So, my methods have changed a lot over the years and now I feel confident about parent communication. I want them as knowledgeable about their child's academic, social and emotional states in the classroom. I do all I can to support each child in their areas of need and I tell the parents what we are doing as a teacher-student team and give ideas on how they may be a part of the support team. I have areas I need to grow and improve upon of course, but I feel good about my communication skills.
Here are some ideas to create positive parent communication:
Dojo is amazing for parent communication. It allows the parents to see daily/hourly if need be, how their child is doing during the school day. You can print out percentages of their behavior to show what they are earning positive and negative points for during the school day.
I use the Messages and Class Story features as well. Messages helps you text parents without them knowing your personal phone number. You may do the messages whole class or individual. Now they have put on a "quiet hours" feature that allows you to set up an automatic message for weekends/holidays/evenings/etc. Although, I have not set any quiet hours as I only answer when I am available anyway. Class Story is like a private Dojo version of Facebook. You are able to post a pic and quick blurb about what is going on and only those who are connected to your personal page may see it. They may click a "like" button and it tells you when they view it. I try to post cute pics of what fun lessons we are doing in class.
2. I email a LOT. I email personal or whole group emails about what we are doing, where children are struggling and where they are doing well. I don't make a lot of phone calls...it just is not something I have time to do. With email and Dojo, it allows me to send a message when I have the time to do it.
3. I make connections with students and their parents/adults. I purposefully find something that I have in common with a family and I begin to create a positive friendship with the family through that beginning connection. Even those hard to connect with families, tend to realize I am there to show love and care to their little one. They eventually realize, I will go the extra mile for their child and family.
4. Sincerity is important. If you are insincere, it will be felt. I work hard to look for the positive in people and sometimes when people do that, it comes off as insincere. I really mean the things I say. Period.
5. When someone is upset with you, you can not take what they say personally...says the really sensitive teacher. Ha! No really, you have to remember that they are angry/upset/yelling/etc. because they are feeling the need to protect their child (because they love their child). If you react calmly and with reason, 99% of the time the problem can be solved. Most of those kinds of situations are misunderstandings, from my experience. Now see #6!!!
6. If you have an event that happens in class/school that you have any notion may become an issue later, don't wait! Contact the parent first! Let me say that again- contact the parent first! Call/email/text/whatever and let them know the whole story of what went on and how you took care of it. If you do this consistently with your students, you will be contacted a million times less by angry families. If they know you are there to keep their child safe and cared for, the families will be upset/angry/misunderstand situations less. AND if it is a really tough family, give yourself a little backup. Let your principal know "I had ____ situation with ___ child today and here is how I handled it ___." You'd be surprised at how happy your principal will be that you are being proactive, as well as keeping him/her informed of your classroom's events.
Well, hopefully these ideas helped someone out there in blog land. :)
Have a great last week before break!