Tag Archives: parent communication

Parent Communication

Year after year, after year, there always seems to be more to do at the beginning of the school year than any human can possibly accomplish. I would like to emphasize one, and only one thing, for the first  3 -4 weeks to accomplish. This would be parent communication. Please make at least one contact home, verbally speaking with a parent or guardian, within the first 3-4 weeks of school. This is a valuable opportunity to make a connection to home; to put your best foot forward; to stress the passion you have for educating their child or student. If at all possible, I would recommend moving those students that are already pushing your buttons to the front of that call line; however, I would only say nice things.

I know…I know….there are some students that are really showing their true colors in the first week of school. Keep in mind…these students are instituting their best defenses during this period. This may just be a front to protect their integrity, their ego, and their pride. These students may be trying to make a place for themselves in the only society they know…school. Let them. However, make a connection home to let their parent(s) or guardians know that you have their best interests in mind. Let them know that you will work with them to insure that “Johnny” or “Susie” have the best year ever. Let them know that the communication lines are always open, in both directions. It’s amazing what positive gains will occur with a simple, casual conversation.

With that said, I would suggest a cheat-sheet of sorts to use when you call parents/guardians the first time. Try to be consistent with the information you give to all parents. As we all know, parents do talk with one another. You’re laughing, but mark my words…. say X, Y and Z to parent A, and G, H, I to parent B, parent A and B talk, …you know what will come your way.

Don’t be afraid to encourage parents/guardians to come into your class for a class period. Some will take you up on it and others will not. When they do, don’t put on a show. Be yourself. Keep your normal routines. Maintain the same expectations. This will paint a real picture for them. For the ones that take you up on this offer, be sure to continue communications home throughout the year, good and bad. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child. With that said, I would also keep a record sheet for each student to record the parental contact you have made and the reasons for doing so, including returning phone calls from parents. Come April or May, this will prove to be a value resource for those students that have been “high-flyers” all year.

The key is communication home. I certainly do not want to disillusion you into thinking that every parent or guardian will be responsive to you making calls home. Some will and some won’t. The key is to do what you should on your end….and that’s making sure that the line is open. Sometimes, it’s just one-sided.

Best of luck!

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Lesson Plan Map

Every July when I was a teacher, anticipation would begin to bubble up inside me with the start of the new school year just weeks away. This usually was invoked by the sights and sounds of back-to-school sales. Nothing got me more excited than the dollar deals at Target and Walmart, not to mention the penny deals at Staples. Oh how Staples misses my business.

In addition to my fetish for new school supplies each year, I was also addicted to meticulously planning out the next school year. This interest was usually sparked by summer workshops/trainings I was fortunate enough to attend. These activities always got my brain spinning on ideas of new activities, instructional techniques and the sequence of the curriculum. You would think not much would change from the year before; however, in all of my 10 years of teaching, I only once experienced back-to-back years where the courses I taught and the curriculum I used remained constant. All other years, I basically had to recalibrate my brain and my resources based around the grade and course I was going to teach. This included a curriculum map for the entire year. I would start with a blank printed copy of each month, and I would then pencil in the mathematics standard, objective, and even the chapters/sections in the textbook, along with all known activities I could use to teach that objective. This was not something I completed in a few days. This usually took me the better part of 2 weeks per course that I taught to complete, keeping a separate file per course.

Keep in mind, this regimen was largely due to my OCD tendencies, but in the end, it sure did make for an easy year. With that said, I won’t lie. I was never able to stick to it exactly, but it served as a road map for the year and kept me focus on what needed to be accomplished. After about year 7, I began to construct this file using Word, strictly for the purpose of sharing with fellow teachers. When I taught in South Carolina, it was a requirement to submit typed lesson plans each week, and post these to our website each week for parents and students to access. Looking back now, and after becoming an avid user of google docs, I really wish I had created a “one-stop-shop” for anything dealing with my lessons. This would include notes, activities, and assignments. Of course, it’s not until I stop teaching that I thought of this and have the time to create an excel file, in conjunction with google docs, to accomplish this task. Funny how things happen.

The file Excel Lesson Link is a template to use to map out your curriculum for the year. This file is actually accessed via my google docs page, as a shared file, hyperlinked within this file. In the Excel Lesson Link file are two other files that are linked to my google docs page that illustrate the capabilities of the file. One is a lesson plan and the other is an activity I used with my algebra students, already link to this blog. When you create your weekly lesson plans, all you have to do is upload them to your google docs page, as a shared document (anyone who has the link can view), and copy the link into the excel file as a hyperlink. In the excel file, clicking on “Insert” and then “Hyperlink” will allow for you to choose the text that displays in the file for the link you are sharing. You can attach all the files you need for each week, or per day, in the colored portion of each day on the calendar. The white section for each day can be used as the descriptors and content information, like the standard and objective and the textbook information. This document can be used in any capacity you so desire. Keep in mind, the goal of this file is to have it act as your one-stop-shop file. You could access it from any computer and pull up the files you need for your lesson. In addition, files and information is so much easier to share with fellow teachers, parents and students.

A few notes about goggle documents:

Google documents is a tool within gmail. If you do not have gmail, you would need to create an account. There may be another functionality out there similar to google docs that I’m not aware of. I will only speak of what I know for this post’s purpose.

I would create a structure of file categories and names per your class structure before uploading any files. This may consist of a main file of let’s say, “8th Grade Math”. Then I might break it up into chapters or content areas, class periods, or maybe even semesters or 9 weeks categories. The number of files uploaded may be very high, so creating subcategories will be very helpful for when you need to find a file. Creating the shell of an outline will prove to be very helpful in the end. Be sure that you “share” each file, requiring the link in order for a person to access the file. I would not make any of your files public. Lastly, it is in your best interest to pdf you’re the file before you post it. Otherwise, your files may be altered without your permission. That’s just not a situation you want to find yourself in.

I hope this resource helps you get organized for the year, if not for anyone but for yourself. If you’re unfamiliar with google documents, please play around with this before trying to utilize the excel file. It IS a great resource and DOES make your life easier. Like always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions shannon.m.richards@gmail.com .I truly want to help make your teaching-life easier.

It’s always my pleasure!

Files for this post:

Lesson Plan Map Word File

Lesson_Plan_Map Pdf

Excel Lesson Link Excel 2007

Lesson Plan Map 97-2003  Excel 97-2003

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