Recently parents were invited to school for parent-teacher conferences. It was wonderful to see so many parents coming and going. Some conferences were early morning chats, some were scheduled in twenty-minute segments on “conference day”, while others were held as student-led conferences complete with shared portfolios and personal student reflections. A couple of years ago, we decided to change our schedule for parent conferences. We considered feedback from teachers and parents who felt that having the first official conference in November to discuss report cards seemed too late in the school year. What if we decoupled report cards and conferences to allow the conversation to be about overall student happiness, learning successes or struggles, and strengthening the parent-teacher partnership? Now in our second year with this schedule, most feel this has been an improvement. During this first conference, we learn about how your sons see school, see friendships, and see themselves as students. Our hope as teachers is that when parents come to school in early October we are able to establish a relationship that lasts throughout the school year. “Knowing” your sons requires “knowing” you as well. Hopefully, the stage is set for a successful school year!
New this year on the parent-teacher connection front is SeeSaw. Everyone that I have talked to is super excited about this social media platform for connecting students and their parents to the learning process and school life. Boys snap pictures of their constructions in math as they learn a new concept. Teachers snap pictures or video of a class performance, and parents are immediately able to enjoy or comment. Conversations around the dinner table at home may now include specific elements of the school day. Parents have a “window” into their son’s school day. Eventually, we will teach the boys to use these demonstrations of learning as part of a portfolio that can travel with them as they move from grade to grade.
A parent requested a meeting the other week just to talk about some questions she had about school procedures. It was so nice to be able to hear her perspective on new things we were trying out and hear first hand how the school experience was working, or not working, for her sons. It was a dialogue we appreciate and encourage between parents and administration. As I talk with parents, I am reminded that we are all working for the same important goals- knowing our boys and helping them have the most meaningful school experience possible.
It is hard to imagine a successful school year without our parents. They help keep the boys on task at home, support our efforts to encourage learning to continue after the school day, and volunteer for the many field trips, class events, and parent association activities during the school year. Pictured below is a snapshot of several parents getting ready to count box tops for much appreciated fund-raising dollars.
I hope that my communication with you each week encourages “talking points” to inspire conversation with your son or sons. Here are some “talking points” based on recent school events.
- If you are in Kindergarten- Did you enjoy watching a tap-dancing performance on Friday? What were some of the steps she taught you?
- If you are in Prep-One- What are you learning in science about car propulsion? Have you started to construct your car?
- If you are in First Grade- What did you add to your book creator project about the steps for solving a mathematical word problem?
- If you are in Second Grade- How did you feel about your first math test? Did you double check all your answers?
- If you are in Third Grade- What book did you choose for book club this month? Are you enjoying it?
- If you are in Fourth Grade- What have you learned about Colonial Maryland in preparation for the trip to St. Mary’s City?
- If you are in Fifth Grade- How was the fall birthday celebration with make-your-own ice cream sundaes? How did you support classmates Gabriel and Lucas with their fundraiser to support Puerto Rico?