Showing posts with label parent teacher communication. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parent teacher communication. Show all posts
Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bulletin Boards for a New School Year

I went to school today to try to finish up my room. My students arrive ready for action on Monday. I still have tons left to do (is a classroom ever completely ready?), but at least to the untrained eye, we're almost there. A few more odds and ends to take care of tomorrow, and we'll be set. I'm quite excited. I got a new assistant this year, and we are working well together already.

I decided to decorate our classroom door up to look like the front of a little red school house. The pictures don't really so it justice, because it wraps around a corner, so in the photos, it looks a little uneven. (Also, I apparently wasn't holding the camera at exactly right angle. We got a new classroom camera and I'm still getting to know it.)

I use F.I.S.H. binders in my classroom for daily parent teacher communication. The acronym stands for Family Involvement Starts Here, and we encourage a lot of parent participation in our program, so this tends to fit our needs better than many of the other notebook acronyms. I try to do the bulletin board nearest the door representing the F.I.S.H. theme at the beginning if the year to tie things together.

I 've never noticed until I was standing back trying to snap this photo that my bulletin board is slightly warped!

 I've done the t-shirt theme on a board on and off a couple of times, but I got a roll of rolling hills background for the boards this year and decided to try it here as well as on one of my other boards.

For the last several years, I've done the cute, well-loved "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Look Who's In Our Room!" theme for outside my door. I'm always sad to take it down and because I tend to dress my door for seasonal changes, I usually need to take it down before I'm ready to see it go. I decided to use the Chicka Chicka theme on one our art boards so it would have a little more longevity this year. The caption reads "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Check Out The Art From Our Room!" Student work will cover this board and I'm planning to use coconuts with student names and pictures to hang with each student's art.

In the rear of our room, the bulletin board sits in the middle of two centers, dramatic play and computers. I try to have a sort of seasonal theme on it, but it is one of the first boards to get covered in art, so the background is only important for the first few days of school when it is still bare. As I mentioned earlier, I decided this year to make it easy on myself and treated myself to a pre-printed background. Most of my bulletin board backgrounds are made from plastic tablecloths. I can reuse them over and over, they last forever, and store away in a medium baggie. We do have bulletin board paper that is there, but it seems so wasteful to throw it right away after taking it down, so I end up storing it until I can use it (usually in art) again. Here's my extravagant (paper waste and $$) splurge.

Our writing center is always a challenge. Last year, I found some yellow CAUTION tape at the dollar store and used it as a border on a black background with the caption: "CAUTION! Writers At Work!" It was very cute, but I wanted a little change. I know several of the boys coming in my class enjoy dinosaurs, so I thought a dinosaur would be cute here.

With the exception of two small parent information boards (one is the yellow one pictured on the schoolhouse doorway), and our circle time boards, all of our boards end up covered in student work.  I start the year with a bare Circle Time board and add to it as I introduce concepts. There will be a community helper featured, a character word, poems, etc. that we will change out as we go along. I've found that often when starting school the first time, a busy circle time board can be a distraction until the students get used to everything on there. Even though their individual work is not displayed here, the students become a part of helping to build this board.

I love cute bulletin boards, and they are always a challenge. I am usually so busy teaching, that I can't enjoy really creating them during the school year, so my assistant will probably be doing most of the rest of the creative boards we'll have this year.  I try to start collecting ideas for the next year as I discover neat boards that others are doing. If you have a bulletin board idea or post, I'd love for you to leave a link in the comments. I may even add a link here!
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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Parent Teacher Communication

What is wrong with this picture? I see  a noticeable  separation between the teacher and the parents. The teacher looks like she is smiling, just as she does with every conference before and after and the parents look a little panicked! I want my students' parents to feel like we're are partners, teaming up to ensure their child's success.Sadly, I couldn't find and clipart pictures of parent teacher teams. :(

I was recently asked to list a few of the ways I facilitate sharing information with my parents. As I started to share,  I realized I have several methods. I feel that parent teacher communication is so important. I want parents to know I value and appreciate open communication between parents and teachers. When I first started teaching, I was very uncomfortable talking to parents. Now, I try to build a relationship with each of my families. (Inevitably, some parents are a little reluctant or private, so some of these relationships are more open than others.) I can serve and teach each child better when I have a full picture of the child and his life.

F*I*S*H* Binders
I have a binder for each child that serves as the primary avenue for the daily back and forth communication with parents. F*I*S*H* stands for “Family Involvement Starts Here”.  Our FISH binder is a 3-ring binder notebook, put together by the teacher that houses EVERYTHING the students and parents need to keep up with what is going on at school. This will include things like the weekly newsletter, important notes, work to keep, upcoming events calendar, daily progress notes, notebook paper for notes to the teacher, etc! No more lost notes, newsletters or calendars or wrinkled papers in the bottom of our backpacks! No more searching the house to find paper to write the teacher a note  --- I provide it.

Why are they important? These notebooks help students establish good organizational skills their first year of school---skills that can carry on throughout their time in school.

  I ask parents to remove any loose contents, initial the daily progress portion, include any pertinent notes to the school and return it to school the next day and place it on the same white counter. Many of the parents initial the book and remove contents, but choose to leave the binders here. I don't mind as long as they are checking it daily.

F*I*S*H* Binder contents:
Daily Progress Report- A quick form that gives a brief sketch of the child's daily behavior and targeted skills for the day. I use five colored faces that correspond to the student's day. Each day the child starts at green and has opportunities to demonstrate positive behavior traits throughout the day. If a reminder or two are needed, there is a designation for that as well. I believe that every child deserves the opportunity to make better choices, so our system starts in the middle. I'll have to write a more detailed post about our system soon.

Behavior Chart With Multiple Opportunities for Success: Originally, I made this form for one student with special needs. He got so hung up in any difficult time during his day, that he was not able to ever get back on track. Part of his behavior plan was to inform the parents of any difficulties he had throughout the day. Now, he has an opportunity for success for each segment of the day. Each segment of the day starts fresh, so even if he has a complete meltdown, he can still have success later in the day. I recognized that I have a few friends who would also benefit with a visual reminder with multiple opportunities for success, so I've implemented it with them as well. It is time consuming, since I do this with four or five of my friends, but since we've been using this system, I have seen an improvement in decision making and social skills.

Correspondence Report: Basically, this is a form where parents can write a quick note to me and I can respond. Handy for letting me know a change in transportation, if a student will be leaving early, expressing the need for a conference. I will occasionally use this area to inform parents of a specific problem that we need to work on together, explain any incidents that I feel they need to be informed of, etc.

Weekly Newsletter
This year, I decided that since I was planning to do themes lasting longer than one week, I would not send out a newsletter weekly, but rather as we changed themes and whenever needed in between. The first part of year was so busy, that "whenever needed in between" turned out to be weekly. I've tried a few times to skip a week, but some of the parents were funny and kind of scolded me that they needed to know what was going on because they missed the newsletter! So I guess it has become a weekly newsletter.  I include last week's happenings (and I try to add a pic or two of learning in progress), next week's themes, any student accolaides, quick reminders, pleas for help or recyclables, generally any info I need to pass on en masse. 


Parent Information Bulletin Board

This bulletin board displays the school year calendar, our daily schedule, weekly menu, info & sign up sheet for class pets, a copy of our newsletter, Changes To Environment, info and sign up sheet for class pets and a list of recyclables currently needed for our class.

Parent Information Entry Whiteboard 

This is right beside our classroom door, so even if parents only walk their child to the classroom door, they are able to see reminders and notes.

Opportunities for Involvement
I offer many opportunities for parent involvement in our classroom. (I admit, I'm no Teacher Tom, but I do have parents in my class frequently. :) Parents have an open invitation to come to lunch anytime, I have a sign up sheet for mystery/guest readers, help with classroom projects, and I frequently have parents who come to facilitate show and tell or other small group activities. I always ask for parents to help with field trips and special activities, as well.

Parent Lending Library
While this is not really a venue for communication, I wanted to mention it. I have a Parent Lending Library just inside my classroom that has materials available for parents to check out. I include article, books and magazines on parenting, special needs, community events, nutrition, behavior issues and ways parents can foster their child's learning at home. I let my parents know that this is a small percentage of resources available and I can help them find appropriate information on just about any topic if needed. Occasionally, this does open the door for a frank discussion if a parent finds the need for a particular type of resource.

Other Means....
I have a small bulletin board right outside my classroom that I post my weekly lesson plans, my planned Changes to Environment, our daily schedule and any school happenings. 

Instead of individual permission slips, our center uses one permission slip with a class list and each parent signs permission next to the child's name. The forms have a section to check off each time a child gets on/off the bus and several "head checks" throughout the trip. These are posted on the outside of the classroom door along with any sign up sheets for activities or supplies requested.

Parent teacher conferences are scheduled for twice a year, and of course any other time a need arises. I have frequent "impromptu" conferences--5 or 10 minutes alone in the teacher's lounge when needed, as well. 

 This is just an overview of some of the ways I communicate with my students' parents. I would love to hear if you have something you do to facilitate good communication with your parents.

Thanks for stopping by!

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