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 can help us better meet students’ learning needs. Forging strong connections with parents is an ongoing process—and it begins with the first days and weeks of school.
Continue Reading

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. 
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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,…
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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. 
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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.…
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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.
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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.…
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading

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…
Continue Reading