Monday, November 4, 2013

Home/School Communication

As I sat down today to work on report cards, I couldn't help but think about the people on the receiving end of them… The families. I am always anxious this first quarter. Did I communicate clearly with them in the days, weeks, and months leading up to these report cards? Will there be surprises or pieces of information that will come as a shock to the families? I certainly hope not… But I always have that thought in the back of my mind. Have I done enough communicating about student progress?

Today I thought I would share with you a few things I do that have been well received by parents and do help me continually keep the line of communication open between home and school.  Don't get me wrong, these do not replace the emails I send or the newsletters or the half sheets of paper that I send as reminders. These are simply systems I use to make sure that there are as few misunderstandings as possible when it comes to students' progress.  I'm sure there will be nothing new to you here, but I thought it might be a good time to hear your ideas on the subject as well!

One thing I do every day is ask my students to fill out assignment notebooks and have their parent/guardian initial it.  I make it very clear to the families that this is their child's responsibility and that parents shouldn't have to hunt this down!  By doing this daily, I can send messages home and parents can send messages to me and it is all tracked nicely in the books!  This works great and is the perfect complement to our 
travel folders.

Some of you may also have seen my post this summer about travel folders and what I put into mine.  If you are interested in checking that out, 

Another thing I do is make sure any assessments I do are graded in a more "Standards Based" way--that way students and parents have a clearer picture of what is going well and what needs work.  Parents are very appreciative of the more specific information and have explained that it really helps them understand the grades as they are marked on 
our report cards.

Similarly, if I give a summative assessment, I do require that a parent/guardian sign the assessment showing me that they have, indeed seen their child's progress to this point.

When work is more formative in nature, I still want to make sure parents can see it so they know what we are working on in class and so they can help out at home if needed!  All exit slips, projects, learning activities, or other graded work goes home about every 2 weeks (more often depending on our units) in a folder where I ask families to look through the work together, then sign and return the folder.

Parents often leave me comments and sometimes leave their child encouraging words as well!  It's always fun for students to go through their work before they take it home . . . they can prepare for the questions their families might have and can show them how much they have improved even since those exit slips were given.

So . . . as I dig in to report cards, I hope I have done enough to set the stage!  Hope all of you have a great week and, if you're working on report cards too, hang in there!  I'd love to hear of how YOU keep the lines of communication open with families!

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  1. So be honest, do you have a secretary? How do you keep up with all the signed communications. In the past I have required my students to returned their assessments signed. I found that I was still chasing students down to return their first assessment when I was handing out another. With three math classes I was going crazy. Some students never returned them. Now when I hand back an assessment I put a label in the student agenda book stating that I have returned a graded assessment. Parents are responsible to check the agenda book and ask to see the assessment. Not a perfect solution but it has gotten out from under a pile of papers and stopped me from constantly chasing down students for papers I will never see again.

    Quinnessential Lessons

    1. UGH! No scecretary AND I am totally disorganized. Signed tests and pink folders are all I record--I just mark it as "late" if they don't have it. So...the pink folder once every week or two...the math tests every 3 weeks or so...the assignment book is a part of their responsibility grade. After each quarter we count up "stars" and that becomes a part of their responsibility grade--along with other things. The paper can be overwhelming--that's why I am pretty choosy about what I insist on being signed! Thanks for your ideas!

  2. As a parent I can say - I wish my kid's teacher did more of this and I LOVE that you say "what skills/knowledge may still be developing" - such a kind and accurate way to say what's really going on when kids are falling behind. They are still developing!

  3. As a parent I can say - I wish my kid's teacher did more of this and I LOVE that you say "what skills/knowledge may still be developing" - such a kind and accurate way to say what's really going on when kids are falling behind. They are still developing!


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