Strong parent-school relationships encourage good attendance—and good attendance enables learning. To gain parents’ support:

  • Show appreciation for families. Include activities that celebrate families’ diversity.
  • Educate parents. Teach parents to establish bedtime and morning routines that eliminate the last-minute rushing around that often causes students to be tardy.
  • Invite community organizations to be your partners. Ask them to help you overcome the barriers that keep students out of school such as lack of childcare and cultural barriers.
  • Recognize attendance success. In addition to reminding families of attendance policies, recognize families whose children are in school every day.
  • Involve parents, students and staff in committees that focus on evaluating attendance issues.
  • Overcome attendance issues. The goal is not to punish families, but rather to help them resolve problems. Work with them to identify barriers to regular attendance and find solutions.

 

Get resources to support family involvement

Involving parents can sometimes seem like an overwhelming task. But many schools have found creative ways to involve other organizations in their efforts. Here are three ideas:

  1. Team up with a college or university. One Philadelphia school teamed up with Temple University to offer parents classes in subjects that ranged from computer literacy to English.
  2. Connect with your local library. Many libraries have a community room that is available for meetings. If a library is close to where many of your parents live, perhaps you could offer satellite meetings or parent conferences in a place closer to their home.
  3. Find sponsors. Some community businesses may be willing to sponsor a school activity if they receive credit. You probably won’t sell the naming rights to your lunchroom. But you could put up a sign acknowledging that a local restaurant donated the pizza for your Winter Concert.

 

Quote of the Day

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“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

Mark Twain

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A well-disciplined classroom is the best environment for learning. But even well-prepared teachers have problems from time to time. Share these time-tested strategies for putting an end to poor conduct:

  • Remind and warn. Point to the rules you’ve posted. Remind students of the consequences for breaking those rules.
  • Get closer. Move to stand or sit next to the misbehaving student. It serves as an effective nonverbal warning.
  • Use your voice. You can change the pace of what you are saying—speaking more slowly or coming to a complete stop. Or you can raise your voice—but not angrily. This sends a signal that you have noticed inappropriate behavior.
  • Ignore it. “Planned ignoring” works well when students seem to be looking for attention. If you don’t give any, the student will stop the mumbling, getting out of the seat or other distracting behavior. Be sure to give these students positive attention and praise when they do something right.

 

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Teachers can mediate students’ stress

Teachers can’t control the endless forces outside the classroom that cause kids stress. But they can work to mediate stress—once students get into the classroom. Encourage teachers to:

  • Give students time to transition from any stress they might have experienced on the way to class. Stretching, playing a game, journal writing, soft music or small group discussions can help.
  • Make it easy for students to understand what is expected of them. Establish clear rules and procedures—and be consistent in enforcing/following them.
  • Avoid unrealistic deadlines. Think carefully about the amount of time most students will really need to finish an assignment.
  • Support positive peer relationships by encouraging teamwork.
  • Make students laugh. Just because the subject is important doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

Nearly 25% of principals and over 50% of teachers surveyed by the Education Week Research Center listed student discipline as a major source of friction in the principal-teacher relationship at their school.

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Schools know that parents have an enormous impact on their children’s academic success. And while most parents value education, they don’t always realize that what they do (or don’t do) now determines whether or not their children will be successful in school. Parents need to know that they are an important piece of the puzzle. Consider hosting workshops and family events that:

  • Show parents how to be actively involved in their children’s education.
  • Help parents understand the important role they play in their children’s success in school.
  • Encourage parents to become partners in their children’s education through elementary school and beyond.

 

A reading challenge keeps learning alive during school holiday

When your students go home for their winter break, will they keep learning? They will if you send them home with a reading challenge.

Ask families to read together for 20 minutes each day. They can write the title of the book they read on a strip of paper and tape the ends together to form a link. Each day they read, families get to add another link. Who can create the longest paper chain over the break?

Remind parents that with each link they add, they are forging a strong chain that will support their child’s learning. Reading together as a family also creates strong links between parents and children

 

Quote of the Day

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“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.”

Jane D. Hull

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Improve family engagement by using the same social media parents are already using! Create a Facebook page or Twitter account for your school. Then post or tweet:

  • Ways parents can support student learning.
  • Invitations, updates and reminders about school events.
  • Positive news about students and school staff.
  • Volunteer opportunities for students and/or parents.
  • Short updates from school meetings.
  • Photos from school activities or events.

 

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Recharge your batteries over the break

The winter break is right around the corner. You may have a lot of holiday plans, but it’s also important to do some things that will help you return to school refreshed, renewed and energized. To make the most of your break, plan to:

  • Reflect on the year to date. What has gone well? What hasn’t? What would you like to change? What could be fine-tuned? Make some notes about the things you will change or do differently when you return from the break
  • Spend time getting organized. Are there things you can do now that will make the remainder of the school year go more smoothly? If so, plan to tackle a few items over the break.
  • Take time for yourself. Do some things you haven’t had time for during the school year. Read that novel you’ve been wanting to read. Go for a walk. Sleep in. Catch up with old friends.

did-you-know  Did You Know?

According to the 2019 Common Sense Census: Media by Tweens and Teens, 8- to 12-year-olds spend close to five hours every day on screens for entertainment. Teens spend close to seven and a half hours daily on screens.

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Family engagement is critical to student success in school. Yet many teachers have no formal training in working with families. Make sure your teachers know how to:

  • Conduct effective conferences. In many cases, parent-teacher conferences are the only time parents meet one-on-one with a teacher. Yet teachers don’t always know how to use this time effectively.
  • Work with parents when a student has a problem.
  • Communicate with parents about student progress. Report cards aren’t enough. Parents want specific information about their child’s learning.
  • Involve parents in learning. When students can tie what they’re learning in school to life at home, class discussion is more robust and the learning is deeper and more relevant.

 

Harness the power of volunteers

Volunteers can be an invaluable source of support for schools and can free teachers up to work individually with students. Make sure your volunteer program offers:

  • Variety. Not every volunteer wants to work in the classroom with students. Not every volunteer is available during school hours. The more opportunities you offer, the more volunteers you are likely to recruit.
  • Training. Host an orientation meeting for volunteers and provide training. Make sure they know whom to contact if they have questions.
  • Resources. Make sure volunteers have the supplies and tools they need to do the job.
  • Appreciation. Volunteers will be more engaged and more likely to return if they feel valued.

 

Quote of the Day

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“If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time—a tremendous whack.”

Winston Churchill

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