Sunday, September 21, 2014

Connecting with Families Through a Focus on the Students

"Every single family can make some contribution to the school.  Recognize all forms of family engagement and offer different outlets for involvement.  Send thank-you notes or little certificates of appreciation." (Henderson, Mapp, Johnson and Davies 2007)

The above excerpt is from the book, Beyond the Bake Sale.  I participated in a book chat with my #PTCamp friends this summer.  

This quote takes me back to my days in the classroom.  Each school year I had "the binder."  This folder was my right hand when it came to my students.  I kept notes on each child, I documented information and I also saved notes from families.  One important piece in the folder was a questionnaire that I asked all families in September.  This form gave me some critical information on students and their families.  Here are some of the questions I used:

1 - What are your child's strengths?

2 - What is one thing you hope your child improves on this year?

3 - Describe your child's hobbies and interests outside of school.

4 - How often would you like to be contacted?  Daily? Weekly? Bi-Weekly? Monthly? As Needed?

5 - Is there anything you would like to share that you believe would help me be the best teacher I can be for your child and your family?

The questionnaire contained roughly eight questions, but this gives you the overall idea.  Question number four was a big one for me.  Each year I had a handful of families that requested weekly phone calls.  On the surface this looked like, "One More Thing."  Yet deep down, I enjoyed it.  I typically carved out about an hour or two between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon.  I contacted families, shared successes and listened.  These weekly phone calls truly helped me bond with several families each school year.

That brings me to this weekend.  Every week I encourage students to let me know when they have an event and I tell them I will try my best to make it.  This past Saturday I attended a Flag Football game in Jackson and I had the opportunity to watch three of our Warner students.  I really got a kick out of watching Justin break a long run and score a touchdown!  Then I got to see Gavin put himself in just the right spot to grab a flag.  Finally, young Derek was playing center...he made me smile when the ball skidded across the ground.  It was nice talking to the families at this event, but more importantly you could clearly see the glimmer in each child's eye!

As I chatted with one parent about the beginning of the year I was beaming with pride!  The first thing she did was bring up one of our amazing teachers.  She pointed out to me that the teacher had called and left the most positive of messages.  She said, "My son asks to listen to that message each day."  WOW! What an impact, a thirty second message that is replayed daily to create smiles and build self-confidence.  The mom went on to introduce me to the boys grandparents.  As we began chatting, she then told me that she had also heard the positive message and that she was so impressed with the level of care and kindness from the teacher.  Those moments make me smile.  I continued to walk around and cheer on our Warner kiddos, and deep down I just felt good inside.  

When we look back at the quote from Beyond the Bake Sale (see above), it's important to focus on ways to connect with families.  My experience has taught me, parents want to help in some way. Some parents would love to volunteer in the classroom or school, some parents relish sending in supplies and some families are simply trying their best.  As September winds down, think to yourself and reflect...have you shared student successes with your families?  Have you looked for a way to allow each family a way to connect and contribute?

As I begin another fantastic week at Warner Elementary, I'm going to be reaching out to our new families.  I can't wait to start building relationships and develop a lasting partnership.


Monday, Sept. 22nd:  NWEA testing begins
Tuesday, Sept. 23rd:  TEAM Meeting 9am
Tuesday, Sept. 23rd:  9am Bible Release
Tuesday, Sept. 23rd:  3:45pm 3rd grade Mackinac meeting
Wednesday, Sept. 24th:  Grades 3-5 Morning Assembly
Wednesday, Sept. 24th:  3pm Engineering in the Elementary with Mr. Lloyd Hilger
Friday, Sept. 26th:  Picture Day
Friday, Sept. 26th:  PM Lockdown Drill
Friday, Sept. 26th:  8am Staff Meeting

Articles Worth Reading:

The Letter From School That Stopped Me In My Tracks @HuffingtonPost

Why Some Kids Try Harder and Some Kids Give Up @HuffingtonPost

25 Signs You Teach in 2015 @TeachThought

I Reached @JonHarper70bd

How Does Physical Activity Affect Academic Performance?

Why Girls Tend To Get Better Grades Than Boys

The Best Classroom Management Develops Classroom Leadership @gcouros

A Bright Idea for Building School Morale Through Compliments @Angela_Watson

Videos Worth Watching:

Oh My Word!  Funniest answer I've heard. (1 min)

Apparantly Kid talks Kindergarten... (4 min)

Lets teach kids to FAIL FORWARD (14 min)

This is a cool App...the Looper!  Check out how Jimmy uses it. (4 min)

No comments:

Post a Comment