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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in making connections

Posted by on in What If?

While you may not see them, the parents or guardians of your students are in your classroom every day. As the primary caregivers of your students, they influence how your students think, feel, and react. Even though the ideal parent or guardian would be informed and supportive while providing a stable home environment and supervising homework, not all individuals meet these ideals. Instead, the parents and guardians of our students are people much like ourselves.  They want to do what is best for their children and don’t always know exactly how to go about it.

Some are overinvolved in their children’s lives and extremely sensitive to the smallest problem—real or imagined. Some will have a negative view because of unpleasant past experiences with school. Still others will be positive and supportive allies. Despite this complicated variation, one thing is certain. Creating a successful relationship with parents and guardians is the classroom teacher’s responsibility. Here are a few suggestions that can be adapted by almost any teacher.

At the start of the term send home a letter that explains the most important rules, policies, and procedures in your classroom. In particular, be very careful to explain your homework policy if you want parents or guardians to help you with this area.

Make sure that all written correspondence is neat, legible, and carefully proofread so that you appear as professional as possible. Readers should pay attention to your message, not question your expertise.

Contact parents or guardians when their children are successful as well as when you need their help in solving a problem. When they hear good news from school, parents or guardians realize you are trying to help their children be successful. When they only hear from teachers when there’s trouble, they quickly learn to dread conversations with us.

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Posted by on in What If?

happy kids

I once taught in a school wher we had to use a standardized lesson plan template that was a helpful guide, but was pretty limited to just the basics. What was missing from that lesson plan template—and indeed from any lesson plan template that I have ever seen--is a section devoted to adding in enjoyment. We all know that when students enjoy their work, they perform better, stay on task, learn more, forge stronger connections, and tend to stay in school longer. If these are the benefits, shouldn’t we plan activities that will allow students to enjoy their work?

I would love to see a lesson plan template with a space dedicated to activities that students can enjoy.  It would be easy to add in activities that are enjoyable if a space for it appeared somewhere between the opening of class activities and the close of class activities. If this was a part of a lesson plan template, the implicit message would be clear: it’s important to consider the fun factor when planning lessons.

If you are fortunate enough to make up your own lesson plan template, consider adding in a space for fun in each lesson. You don’t have to devote lots of time each class to fun-filled activities but do consider formalizing your plans for it. Even just a quick little reminder to yourself to add a bit of joy into the school day would make a difference. Luckily for teachers everywhere, it’s not hard to plan classroom activities that students enjoy. Here are some simple, low preparation activities that you can adapt to make syour students smile as they go about their work:

Writing with markers

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Posted by on in General

R-.jpg

The first time it happened I cracked up. The little girl’s response took me totally by surprise. And then it happened again. Awesome! Totally awesome!

I remember like it was yesterday. A young girl, probably about six years old, walked past me wearing a hat with the letter R on it. I, being the outgoing and inquisitive person that I am, had to ask, what’s the R stand for? To which she replied—I could not make this up—Rrrrrr.

What!?

I was hysterical. I was expecting her to give me a name like Reagan or Riley. Or quite possibly her favorite team such as the Redskins and Reds. Nope. Instead, this innocent little girl gave me the sound that the letter R makes. And not only did she do this once. She gave me the exact same answer the following week. No prompting. I promise.

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Posted by on in General

smile2.jpg

Riding home from a friend’s house on a warm Friday night with my daughter is a privilege I know I wouldn’t have much longer. She is only twelve, but it won’t be long before her Friday nights are spent socializing with her peers while I anxiously await her safe return. So I cherish every moment. We spent the drive trying to see who was faster at naming the songs and artists on the local radio station. Lucky for me they played mostly hits from yesterday.

But as we neared home, the songs being played were becoming more current. Then Taylor Swift’s Style came on. She not only knew the artist, but she was able to tell me the entire story behind each and every lyric. The fact that it was written about Harry Styles, her imaginary crush, didn’t hurt. Was this a sign of things to come?

Then as we were minutes from home, my daughter caught me by surprise. She hit me with a series of questions that I wasn’t quite sure how to answer.

“Daddy how did you become such a good father?”

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Posted by on in General

Picnic basket 01

Ian was still working on his state reading assessment as lunch time approached. His classmates had finished and surprisingly remained quiet as he worked. During that time, this little boy, who has all the signs of ADHD – but no diagnosis, and no medication – twisted around in his seat, bopped to an imaginary beat, tapped his pencil and averaged the completion of approximately one question every twenty minutes. The patience of his peers far surpassed my own.

The rule for testing day is that any student not finished at lunch time must bring his food back to the testing location, eat, and then continue the ordeal. I allowed Ian to go ahead of the group to grab his food. The rest of the kids and I followed behind to the cafeteria.

I heated up my daily rice with almonds and wasabi peas and walked back to class with the boy who was already eating part of his salad with his fingers. We sat on the floor of the room – picnic style – and took a break from testing.

I had first met Ian when he was a second grader and I was his assistant principal. The cafeteria was in use that day for the display of science fair projects. So lunch was served at the picnic tables outside.

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