Week of October 24

Dear Staff,

It’s hard to believe (and you wouldn’t know it from the unseasonably warm temperatures outside), but we are nearing the end of our first trimester.  As you assess your students, complete your report cards, and prepare for your first round of Parent/Teacher Conferences, we offer a few reminders.

  • In the Basic School, we view parents as our partners.  You all already do a beautiful job of this, but please make sure that parents feel valued as partners and are viewed as experts on their child.  Meeting with teachers can be very intimidating for some parents, so taking the time to share cute stories and observations you’ve made can go a long way in building trust with your parents.  Take the time to laugh and cut up with your parents.  This will help break the ice and will also help you in the event you have some “less desirable” or concerning news to share.  We want them to know we are a team!
  • Make sure you have evidence of your students’ learning available.  This concrete measure helps parents to see what you are explaining, so be sure you can back up your words with work samples that show what you are trying to communicate.  Also, make sure you are organized!  Having to search for papers across the room in the moment sends the message to parents that you may be scattered or either aren’t prepared.  If you need some help or ideas with this, let us know.  There are several organizational gurus on staff, and they are always happy to offer suggestions. 🙂
  • If you have a concern about a student, do not shy away from sharing it with the parents.  However, always have a plan about what you are going to do to address the problem.  If parents know we love their children and that we are actively trying to help their child become the best version of him/herself, then we can’t possibly go wrong.
  • If you feel a little “stuck” or “unsettled”as you prepare for conferences, never hesitate to ask for help!  As is the case with most things in life, it’s not really what we say but how we say it that matters.  You are surrounded by caring professionals who are filled with great words for every situation!  So please make sure you seek help if needed. *On a side note, if you conduct any conferences that feel off or leave you feeling unsettled after the fact, please give admin a heads up immediately.  We are in this together and want to do all in our power to help.

Below are a few resources we felt might be helpful as you approach report card and conference season.  If you have any questions or need any help at all, do not hesitate to let us know!  Thank you, in advance, for all of your hard work.  We are certain you will wow your parents with your organization, your smarts, and your huge hearts.  These kids are so lucky to have you in their lives.

Love,

Juli, Marianne, and Leslie

Love and Logic®

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Kids are always better off when they see their parents and teachers supporting each other. This perception underlines in the child’s mind that people love them enough to cooperate on their behalf… and that education is very important. Here are some quick tips for giving kids this gift:

As often as possible… and as soon as possible…
notice something positive.

Too many parents and educators wait for something to go wrong before contacting each other. Wiser ones find something positive to share and share it as soon as possible. People are far more likely to be supportive after problems arise when their first interaction with us was a positive one.

When problems do arise,
first describe your plan for helping.

Too frequently parents dump problems on teachers and teachers dump problems on parents. This never gets things off to a great start.

Here’s a completely different approach:

“I know Olivia is having a tough time staying focused. At home we are planning to work really hard on this. May I describe our plan?”

 

“I have a plan for helping Olivia stay more focused in my class.
May I describe it to you?”

It’s truly amazing what people are willing to do on our behalf when we first describe what we are willing to do on theirs.

As soon as you sense anger or defensiveness,
remind yourself to listen.

The points above dramatically increase the odds of success. They don’t guarantee that conflict won’t arise. Consider posting sticky notes around your house, each one of them reading:

“It’s time to listen when I sense anger from myself or others.”

People who develop this habit enjoy far happier relationships with everyone in their lives.

Remember that people are more likely to “experiment”
than to “do.”

The best way to start a fight is to tell someone what to do… or to imply that they must change. Instead, experiment with suggesting a time-limited experiment:

“Some parents decide to experiment with _________________ at
home for a week or two.”
“Would you be willing to experiment with __________________ for
a couple weeks when he’s having this problem in class?”

For more tips on win-win parent-teacher relationships, listen to our audio,Putting Parents at Ease.

Thanks for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible. If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend.

Dr. Charles Fay

Week At A Glance

Monday, October 24th:
ASE Round 2 Begins
Renaud to the Pines
Holshouser to Huntersville Oaks
MS Tacky Day
Tuesday, October 25th:
MS Spartan Wear Day
Wednesday, October 26th:
Danielle Walker Teacher Leader
MS Pajama Day
Thursday, October 27th:
3rd Grade Field Trip to Schiele Museum
MS Crazy Hair Day
Friday, October 28th:
Parade of Fiction
MS Neon Day
MS Pep Rally
Upcoming Dates:
Oct 31st – No School; Teacher Workday
Nov 1st – No School; Teacher Workday
Nov 2nd – K-7 Staff Meeting – Accreditation Info
Nov 3rd – Elementary Day of Dead Celebration (Spanish)
Nov 3rd – K-7 Lottery Open House
Nov 3rd – Love and Logic Parent Workshop – 7:30 at K-7
Nov 4th – Elementary Spirit Day
Nov 4th – Kindergarten Aw Shucks Farm Field Trip
Nov 4th – 7th Grade Africa Day
Nov 8th – Love and Logic Parent Workshop – 8:45 in 6th Grade Art Room
Nov 13th – K-7 Lottery Open House 9:15 & 6:30
Nov 14h – 7th Grade Africa Day
Nov 11th – NO SCHOOL – Veteran’s Day Holiday
Nov 15th – Love and Logic Parent Workshop – 8:45 in 6th Grade Art Room
Nov 15th – K-8 Cyberbullying Parent Workshop – 7:00 in MS Black Box
Nov 16th – K-7 Staff Meeting
Nov 17th – MS/HS Band Concert
Nov 18th – 6th Grade Greek Day
Nov 21st – Davidson Walking Tour – ½ of 2nd Grade
Nov 22nd – Davidson Walking Tour – ½ of 2nd Grade
Nov 22nd – Love and Logic Parent Workshop – 8:45 in 6th Grade Art Room
Nov 23rd – Nov 25th – NO SCHOOL; Thanksgiving Holiday
Nov 29th – Love and Logic Parent Workshop – 8:45 in 6th Grade Art Room
Dec 1st -3rd – Christmas in Davidson
Dec 16th – 2nd Grade Art Gallery
Dec 16th – 3rd Grade Charlotte History Performance
Dec 19th – Jan 2nd – Winter Break
Jan 3rd – Classes Resume

Teaching Tips with Marianne

Parent–Teacher Conferences: A Tip Sheet for Teachers

Parent–teacher conferences are an important component of ongoing home–school communication and family involvement in your classroom. Did you also know that home–school communication predicts positive outcomes for students and for schools? Although you may already be working hard to engage parents in their children’s education, this tip sheet is designed to build on your own experiences and provide you with additional information to help make your parent–teacher conferences productive and effective.

Approaching Parent–Teacher Conferences

• A two-way conversation. The parent–teacher conference is not only an opportunity for parents to learn from you, but for you to learn from them. Nobody knows your students better than their families. Their insights into their child’s strengths and needs, learning styles, and nonschool learning opportunities can help you improve your instructional methods. Your efforts to better understand their aspirations and perspectives make parents feel respected and build trust with them.

• Emphasis on learning. You can make the most of parent–teacher conferences, and other forms of family involvement, by “linking them to learning.” This means bringing events and communication back to a discussion of strategies to support student learning. You can arm parents with knowledge and suggestions for how to help their children learn.

• Opportunities and challenges. We all need praise and constructive criticism to grow. All parents are proud of their children and need to hear about their strengths as well as their challenges from you. This helps show parents that you value the unique strengths of their children and have high expectations for their ability to succeed in school and in life.

Ideas for before the conferences

  •  Send invitations. Disseminate information about conferences to families through flyers, notes, phone calls, and community meetings. Include information about the timing and goals of the conferences, as well as alternative scheduling options in your invitations.
  •  Review student work. Be prepared to go over student data, assignments, and assessments during the conferences. Think of what more you would like to learn about your students from their parents.
  •  Prepare thoughts and materials. Create an agenda or list of key issues you want to discuss about each student’s progress and growth. Also consider creating a portfolio of student work to walk through with families during the conferences.
  •  Send reminders. The week before the conferences, send home a reminder for when and where the conferences will be held. You may also want to include an outline of your agenda to prepare parents for the conferences.
  •  Create a welcoming environment. Make your classroom comfortable for families by displaying student work, arranging seating in circles (with adult chairs, if possible), and making a private space for the conferences.

Ideas for during the conferences

  •  Discuss progress and growth. Starting with the positive, let families know about their child’s ability level in different subjects and in relationship to his or her peers. Help families understand student data to demonstrate progress against learning goals and to identify areas that need to be addressed.
  •  Use examples. Walk parents through the assignments and assessments that are particularly demonstrative of the student’s progress and abilities.
  •  Ask questions and listen actively. Solicit family input into student strengths and needs, learning styles, and nonschool learning opportunities. Ask parents about their hopes and dreams for their child.
  •  Share ideas for supporting learning. Provide suggestions for activities and strategies families can use at home to help their child learn and grow.
  •  Seek solutions collaboratively. Avoid judgments about what “they” should do and instead emphasize how “we” can work together to resolve any problems.
  •  Make an action plan. Spend the last few minutes discussing how you and the family will support the student. Be specific about the kinds of things you will do, for how long you will do them, and how you will check in with one another about progress.
  •  Establish lines of communication. Describe how you will communicate with families (i.e., through notes home, phone calls, email etc.) and they can contact you. Schedule a way to follow up on your conference in the next few months.Ideas for after the conferences
  •  Follow up with families. If practical, contact parents (either by phone or in a note) who attended the conference and thank them for doing so. Ask if they have further questions or concerns and send home materials that can help them support learning at home. Contact parents who did not attend, as well, and offer alternative ways to communicate about their child.
  •  Communicate regularly. Communicate on an ongoing basis with families, with positive news as well as updates on student progress and challenges. Also let families know about other opportunities for them to be involved.
  •  Connect in-class activities. Create responsive instructional practices based on what you learned about family cultures, home learning environments, and student strengths and needs.For more resources on family involvement, visit www.hfrp.org.

Harvard Family Research Project Harvard Graduate School of Education 3 Garden Street Cambridge, MA 02138 Website: http://www.hfrp.org Email: hfrp@gse.harvard.edu Tel: 617-495-9108 Fax: 617-495-8594

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