Wednesday, August 19, 2015

*Together We Are Stronger

I believe that as a classroom teacher, together we are stronger.  For this reason I create a classroom climate where students support each other with their learning, and where student ideas are listened to and valued. When a classroom supports the learning of all, then all are able to flourish.  But it takes more than just fostering a supportive classroom environment, parents need to be equal partners too.
As part of  The Top 12 Global Teacher Bloggers”, each month we are asked to share our views on a specific question.  This month’s question is “What are the best ways parents can help teachers and that teachers can help parents?’ 

I see each of my students as unique learners with unique needs so I'm leary to give "advice" that will be of benefit for every student.  However at the most basic level parents can help teachers by being there for their children.  It is far less about what I need as a teacher, and far more about what their child (or my student) needs. It's about making the child's learning a priority.  This does not mean I expect parents to be on their child's case all the time because learning in a toxic environment doesn't benefit anyone. 

What I'd love to see is a family who creates a home learning environment  that is encouraging and supportive.  A family that makes time for a child by being interested in their learning.  And yes, I realize that many families are very "busy"  but if a family it too busy for quality time with their own children, then maybe what's keeping everyone "busy" needs to be looked at again.  Quality time together doesn't have to take a lot of actual "time" but it should be  meaningful. 

As a teacher I appreciate when I am provided information about a child that I might not already have.  However it's usually not ideal for a parent to show up unannounced or try to share this important information  during school pick up or drop off.  It's best if we can prearrange a time to meet and discuss, or if the information could be put into writing so that when I have a spare moment, I can give the information the attention it deserves. Open communication between the home and the school is crucial.

As a classroom teacher,  we can help by providing a variety of ways for parents to connect with us and to see into our classroom.  What we do in the confines of our classroom walls should not be a secret. One way I am open and transparent is by maintaining a class blog.  I also provide my students with their own individual blogs.  In addition each child in my class has their own digital portfolio housed in Fresh Grade which highlights individual student learning and includes feedback from myself, the student, and ideally the parent too.  Other ways teachers might share student learning wih families might be via a daily agenda messages,  e-mail updates,  Remind messages, and/or traditional  newsletters.  Social media sites such as twitter, facebook, or Instagram could help keep the communication open between home and school.  The tool is some what irrelevant, what is important   is that teachers and parents have clear avenues for ongoing communication.  With authentic relationships and open teacher-student-home communication all children should have the opportunity to flourish. 

Together we are stronger.

*This post is part of a series of monthly questions that Cathy Rubin is asking several education bloggers to respond to.  This month's question was "What are the best ways parents can help teachers and that teachers can help parents?"  It is an honour to be a part of this group.  Please check out the complete list of posts here  . 

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