Friday, September 2, 2011

TMT Series: Partnering with Parents

I love the beginning of a new school year because of all the anticipation and prospect of starting anew. In college I was taught that, as teachers, we are lifelong learners. I wholeheartedly agree that I am and will be forever trying new things and reflecting on how successful it was in impacting student learning. This idea also is the main tenet of teaching as a National Board certified teacher. The whole idea is to look back at how things went and to make changes or keep things the same based on how effective the lesson was.

It seems that as each new year starts, I find myself thinking about my strengths and weaknesses and really focusing on how I can improve upon my teaching. In the last few years I have communicated more and more with parents and I would really like to continue to strengthen the relationship that I have with my students' families. This year I have a student teacher and I was explaining how scared I used to be whenever I had to call a parent when I first started teaching. I distinctly remember writing out what I wanted to say and then nervously calling to talk to parents of my students. It was especially hard when I knew I had to call a family who didn't speak English as their native language and that I might have to speak to them in Spanish. I'm one thousand times more comfortable calling and talking with parents now then when I first started teaching but I really don't believe I learned much about inviting parents to share in student learning when I was in college.

This year I decided to call all the parents of students on my caseload at the beginning of the year. I usually don't call them until later in the year because I send a back-to-school letter, but I realized reaching out to them at the beginning of the school year and checking to see how the school year has started out from their perspective. I informed parents that I have a student teacher working with me and that she would be calling to introduce herself. My student teacher and I talked about how scary it is to call parents and I'm hoping that by encouraging her to call parents on my caseload after I have already let them know she'll be calling it will help her be more likely to call - and not be scared - when she has students and families of her own to be working with.

I'm really excited to start off the year in close communication with families. I'm hoping that because I have already contacted them that as I send home information about reading with their child or call them again to talk to about their child they will be more receptive to my suggestions. One can only hope!

Kellee and I thought it would be wonderful to ask some of our favorite Twitterverse colleagues to send us their ideas or tips for working with parents and partnering with them to further students' reading development. Stop back in on Fridays to read great guest posts on this topic!

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