Saturday, August 16, 2008

New teacher hints...

I thought I would share some advice for those of you that are newer teachers. There are several things we can do as teachers to make our school year go a bit smoother. And hey...let's admit it...we all need things that make life and work a bit easier!
1.) Always make a positive contact with a parent first!---It is always easier to make that dreaded "I have to tell on your kid" phone call, if you have made a postitive contact first. How can you do this? Well, I do it in two ways.

  • I always begin the school year by sending out a "Welcome Back To School" postcard. I write something like, "Hello there! I hope you have had a great summer. I sure have. We enjoyed our visit to the Grand Canyon this summer. But it is time to head back to school. I am so excited about getting to know you. This is going to be a great year. I will see you bright and early on Aug 20th!" This is a personal note to each child and parent.
  • Secondly, I make a point in the first three weeks to send a personal note to each parent. Now, I know we are all busy, the note does not have to be more that a few sentences. I try to find something I have learned and enjoy about their child. Here is an example, "Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith, I just wanted to send a quick note to let you know I am sure enjoying getting to know John. He is such a well mannered young man. You have much to be proud of! Mrs. R" I usually write three a day the first three weeks. I actually keep a copy of each note.

These two tasks really help to set the stage for parent support when you are dealing with children. I don't think we realize how much parents need to get those positive stickers! Especially if they have a troubled child those positive notes are few and far between. So, set the stage, make your first contact a postivie one!

Another hint....KEEP EVERYTHING!!!!

I bought a few crates that fit legal size file folders (You could just use a filing cabinet). Each child has a folder. Any information that goes between home and school goes in this folder. You just never know when a parent will come in and say they never saw a note or paper. Here are the items I keep in this folder: Begining of the year letters that went home with parent signatures, any and all assessment, progress reports, personal notes from home and school, referrals, copies of emails, excuses for not participating in PE....etc. You get the picture. Let's face it, dealing with irate parents is difficult. This organizational technique has saved me several heart aches. I have had a parent go to my adminstration saying they wanted their kid moved because I didn't communicate that their child was failing. When I walked into the parent meeting with my administrater I had a file full of progress reports (I send these home every two weeks and require a parent signature) and all the chapter tests (I also send home and require a parent signature). Come to find had been hiding from dad all of this information. Dad ended up apologizing and said he obviously had issues at home to address. So, take the time to set this up! With sue happy people these days, you can't afford not to cover yourself in every way! Make a paper trail!

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