As we are well on our way within the school year, it is time to start and to also continue to build a collaborative relationship with the parents, caregivers, and guardians of the students we teach. These nights are not interviews but a way to build the spirit of community and also a way to open the lines of communication. Parents need to understand what happens in the classroom and within the school. Furthermore, they do want to hear and understand what their child will be learning in our classrooms. As teachers we need to be prepared, organized and sometimes advocates for the classroom and school. How we go about this is dependent on what you feel comfortable with on how to deliver your information. My first few years, I always chatted with parents and gave them a general overview of the curriculum but found that discussions were not meaningful and we both (parents and I) were going through the motions. Over time I have found that creating a Power Point presentation serves this purpose rather efficiently. I am one of the fortunate ones where I have a dedicated Smart Board for my classroom. I truly enjoy using this medium, as it gives parents the opportunity to visually see what and how one is utilized. When I begin my presentation, I give parents the opportunity to write their names on the Smart Board in an effort to involve them and understand how technology has developed. Furthermore, this allows me to know who they are (as sometimes we have never met previously). My presentation lasts about 2-3 minutes but the use of the Smart Board does not end there. For the rest of the time, I have stations set up where parents can attempt different activities based on the curriculum that students will be delving into throughout the year. I utilize an already prepared task for parents to work through on the Smart Board (Probability activities and Geometry activities lend themselves well to this type of center). Other centers include a Language Arts activity, a short Web Quest on the classroom computers (if you have any) which could be Science, Geography or History based, and for Catholic teachers a center at the prayer table. All the while, the experience is interactive. Furthermore, when parents are ready to leave, I have a handout where I give them a write up of classroom expectations, a classroom schedule, a list of supplies required for students, an overview for each subject that I teach, any trips/excursions in the works, and my contact information. I find that providing this type of information as a hard copy allows for them to be fully informed and a quick reference for their personal use at home. In addition, there is a letter asking for anyone to volunteer in the classroom, or donate materials or books for the classroom. I know some teachers provide a parting gift, something as simple as a labeled candy (it’s sweet to teach your child) or a water bottle with a label stating (meeting you has been refreshing!).
What have you done or are planning to do? Please share and comment as together we can prepare fantastic starts to successful years!