Helping Students Turn Anxiety into Achievement

According to the Child Mind Institute, there has been a 17% increase in anxiety disorder diagnoses in young people. When these children show up in our classrooms, they want to be successful just like every other student but face many more challenges than their peers. Irritability, fatigue, and sleep difficulties can impact their ability to Read More »
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Strengthening Your Community: Continuing to Connect with Students and Families

Recently, as I was returning a rental car, the associate behind the desk asked me an all-too-familiar question: “How was everything?” Without very much thought, I smiled and provided my routine answer:…
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Valuing Cultural Norms That Differ From Your Own

Black History Month is an opportunity for us as educators not only to teach students about historic contributors to our American history, but also to help students experience and find value in…
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Communicating with Families: Operating from a Place of Empathy

It was the morning of the first day of school and for the first time in four years, I was preparing my daughter to attend a school where I was not one…
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Having Effective, Affirming, and Energizing Conversations with Families

Every interaction we have (or don’t have) with parents does, to some degree, reflect how much we value families’ input and the extent to which we see caregivers as our partners in…
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Building Bridges

Taking time to get to know parents sends an important message: We’re a team with a shared goal of helping students have a successful school year. Plus, parents have invaluable insight that…
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Pen Pals With a Twist

Not long ago, my second grade classes started pen pal projects. These weren't your usual pen pal ventures where children write to students in another state or country. These had a twist. 
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Family Connections: 10 Minutes You Don’t Want to Skip

The beginning of the school year is a time for building relationships. I purposefully plan morning meetings, energizers, and other activities so students get to know each other and so our class…
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How to Talk With Parents about Cliques and Exclusion

Early in the school year, share with parents school and class expectations related to exclusion. You could do this in a letter or at back-to-school night. Give them a broad understanding of…
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What to Say to Parents Now

I can't begin to describe how important the exchanges I've had with my children's teachers and principal have been to me this week. At various times, each of them reached out to…
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More Resources for Educators and Parents

Our appreciation for social media grew quite a bit when we asked "Educators, how was the day?" on the Responsive Classroom Facebook page on Monday afternoon, and over 100 people responded. We…
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Parent Outreach for Busy Leaders

Teachers are encouraged to reach out early and often to their students' parents and families, and with good reason. If children are to succeed at school, teachers need to get to know…
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Talking with Parents about Problems

Conversations about a child who is struggling in school are stressful for parents and teachers. Both parties may experience feelings of anger, fear, frustration, and confusion, along with a sense of inadequacy,…
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What Parents Wish Teachers Knew

Recently, I had the exciting opportunity to be interviewed by Katie Couric in the ABC studio in New York City for her weekly online video series, Katie's Take. The topic: "What Teachers…
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Ever Feel Misunderstood?

I've been thinking about the communication gap that sometimes exists between parents and teachers and how we can narrow it. For example, has this ever happened to you?A teacher offers advice on…
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Bullyproofing at Back-to-School Night

Will you be meeting your students' families at back-to-school night soon? If so, you have a golden opportunity to take another important step toward bullyproofing your classroom. 
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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…
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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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Homework: An Unwelcome Guest

Most Thursday nights, our family joins two other families for what we all call "Dinner and a Show." We congregate at one of our houses, the kids play together and we all…
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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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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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Better Together

"This year, in partnership with the United Way of Greater Toledo Women's Initiative, the Toledo Public Schools, and the Toledo Federation of Teachers, our focus will be on creating caring learning communities…
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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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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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