Communicating with Parents

To teach well, we must know children well, and parents can help us do that better than anyone. Parents can share knowledge of their child’s strengths and challenges, unique perspectives, and other invaluable insights. Parents can also support their child’s learning at home. When we let parents know what’s being learned at school, they can Read More »
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School-Home Communication Strategies

As educators, we know that communication between school and home is hugely important to a child’s success in school. When school leaders, teachers, and other school staff respect parents* and share infor­mation…
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Families’ Hopes and Dreams

If we really believe the statement “Parents are partners in their children’s education,” then we have to make developing relationships with parents a top priority. An important first step in building these…
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Bullying Prevention

My colleague Caltha Crowe has been researching bullying prevention for an upcoming book, and as a result, my antennae are out for news on this topic. So, the other day when I…
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The Wise Teacher

A colleague of mine recently told me a story that reminded me of how powerful and positive an influence teachers can have—not just on their students,  but on students’ families as well.…
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Building Empathy to Prevent Bullying

My fifth grade class was about to welcome a new student—I'll call him Mark—who had a number of medical challenges. For instance, he had a feeding tube, and he suffered from uncontrollable…
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The Swan

At the beginning of first grade, Erick was a sweet, thoughtful boy who struggled with self-control. From the first days of school, his actions revealed his caring nature: He consoled a classmate…
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Parents and other Volunteers in the Classroom

Inviting parents and other adult family members into the classroom gives them a chance to experience some of their child’s school life. It can also be a way for you to get…
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PE Kudos! Forging connections with families

At University School of Nashville, where I was an administrator and teacher for 23 years, the physical education teachers have recently been trying a new way of engaging students' parents in the…
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Forging Connections with Families, Part 2: Reaching Out

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about a thought-provoking series on the home-school connection that was recently published in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.  In the second article in the series, journalist Erin…
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Forging Connections with Families, Part 1: Removing Barriers

A recent series of articles published in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel have me thinking about one of my favorite topics—the importance of forging connections between schools and parents.
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Respect & Responsive Classroom

This past summer at the Responsive Classroom Schools Conference, Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot’s keynote speech on the dimensions of respect gave me a new lens with which to reflect on Responsive Classroom and…
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Here’s an Idea! Class Books with Parents

Making a class version of a book is a community building activity used by lots of teachers at the beginning of the year. I used it with second graders, but it could…
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Keeping in Touch with Families All Year Long

Step out of your teacher shoes for a moment and imagine yourself as the parent of a child you teach. You're at home, and the phone rings. You pick it up and…
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Learning Celebrations

As a new teacher years ago, I knew by instinct and training that students would learn more, and with more joy, if adults from their home lives shared in their school lives.…
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A Welcoming Routine for Arrival Time

Each morning at the University School of Nashville's lower school begins with a simple routine that welcomes students out of their cars and into the building. As children spill out of the…
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Gremlins

Miguel hunched over a blank page in his notebook, scowling and biting his lip. I approached him and whispered, "I see you're having a hard time getting started. Is your writing gremlin…
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Success Night

When Kyle and his grandparents walk into Summit Elementary School on Success Night, the hallways are already buzzing with children and their families. Kyle’s grandmother catches sight of his second grade teacher…
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Multiple Intelligences

Walking into my classroom on a typical day, you must take care not to interrupt a group collaborating on writing rap lyrics to explain how Hank Zipzer (“the world’s most talented underachiever”…
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Bullying in Schools

Bullying is a top issue on educators’ minds.Those using or exploring the Responsive Classroom approach frequently ask, “Is this approach a bullying prevention program? If not, how does it relate to bullying…
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Reaching Out to Parents

For many families at Sarasota Suncoast Academy, the school day begins in the parking lot with a friendly personal welcome from principal Steve Crump. He and the rest of the office staff…
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Informality Enhances Parent Meetings

Because I want families to be important members of their child’s educational team, I make opportunities throughout the school year for in-person conversations with each student’s parents or guardians. These “meetings” range…
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Including Wyatt

Morning Meeting is about to start. With eye contact and a head nod, Wyatt chooses a friend to ring the chime that signals our gathering. We come together in record time. There…
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Welcoming Families of Different Cultures

An adapted excerpt from Parents & Teachers Working Together One of the enduring truths about teaching is that to teach children well, we have to know them: what they’re passionate about, what…
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Helping Others

“Helping others in need” is a theme I like to use for focusing classroom activities with upper-grade students. The recent Asian tsunami disaster offered a good opportunity for an activity. It connected…
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Investing in Parents During the First Six Weeks of School

Teachers work hard during the first six weeks of school to get to know their students and to establish a safe and welcoming classroom environment. This early investment makes the whole school…
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Parent-Student-Teacher Conferences Keep the Focus on the Child

On a sunny October afternoon, kindergartner Chloe welcomes her mom into her classroom for a conference. Together they review a map Chloe had created with symbols representing the activities that the class…
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