April 19, 2018

Classroom Management and Parent-Teacher Communication Made Easy for Kindergarten

Is your parent-teacher communication on it's "A Game"?  Do you find writing notes and talking to parents about their student's academics easy breezy?  I do . . . now!

Classroom Management made simple with Kindergarten Parent Communication Forms for Kindergarten Reading Assessment and Kindergarten Math Assessments

#Realtalk  There have been several times in my 24 years as an educator that I have had parent conversations that have turned uncomfortable and awkward.  I have the personality that does not do well with confrontation and I take everything to heart.  On the home front, the last nine years I have become a mom to school aged boys that struggle at school in reading.  Being on both sides of the fence is hard.  I understand the concerns some of my sons' teachers (yes...sons...because all 3 struggle)  have but at the same time I don't like turning the corner and walking the other way, every time I see one of their teachers coming my way.


Here are a few quick and easy parent communication tips that have worked for me the past several years.

TRICIA'S TIP #1
Talk to parents with understanding and empathy.
Most parents, I believe, really are trying the best they know how.  Most parents I have personally worked with, love their children and see their kids as an extension of themselves.  Some parents have had bad tough times themselves in school and already may feel negatively toward teachers.  I have sat in countless IEPs through the years where my colleagues begin talking by listing all of the improvements that students need to make.  IEP talk time can be short so some of my colleagues have come right out of the gate with negatives.  Having the unique experience of sitting on both sides of the IEP meeting table as a parent and as an educator there have been times I have said to myself, "Did they just really say that to me?  I would never speak that way to a parent.  My child is struggling and we are doing the best that we can right now."    Win your parents over with smiles, kindness and compassion!

TRICIA'S TIP #2
Make a "Sunshine Call" as the beginning of the year or as soon as you can.
The first week or two of school I slowly work my way down the class list calling my new students' parents. I tell parents I am so happy to be their child's teacher.  Then I share a quick positive I have noticed about their student.  Most parents I talk to are so surprised I took the time to call and give a compliment to their child.  They tell me the only time they hear from a teacher is when there is a negative in school.  When a make a "Sunshine Call" at the beginning of the year, it is so much easier to call later in the year to say, "Hey I know we talked a little bit ago and "Charlie" was doing great but right now I am seeing a few challenges.  I was calling to see if you could help me because I know what a great kid "Charlie" is."   I already laid a little ground work that I am not a "Negative Nelly" so most parents I have talked to are happy to help because they know I have shown that I care about their student.

TRICIA'S TIP #3
Communicate often and celebrate successes!
When I talk to parents I use "sandwich talk".  I sandwich a negative (I call them "challenges" in the classroom) between two positive statements.  For example, I start with a positive like "I care about your child and want the best for them"  (this is absolutely true...I adore my students)  Then I will slip in something their student needs to work on.  Lastly, I close the conversation with a positive about their child.  Celebrating successes leave my parents feeling inspired rather than deflated.

TRICIA'S TIP #4
Send home happy notes or quick forms that communicate how students are doing.  I have a drawer filled with these easy to use forms that communicate beginning reading, phonics and math skills for my Kindergarteners.  I highlight things students need to work on and write a few words of praise.  There is my "sandwich talk" again but this time on a written form ;)


Classroom Management made simple with Kindergarten Parent Communication Forms for Kindergarten Reading Assessment and Kindergarten Math Assessments


Classroom Management made simple with Kindergarten Parent Communication Forms for Kindergarten Reading Assessment and Kindergarten Math Assessments

I just add a few quick positive notes to build confidence and celebrate success.  Then I highlight challenges my students need support with at home. My parents love receiving these!

Classroom Management made simple with Kindergarten Parent Communication Forms for Kindergarten Reading Assessment and Kindergarten Math Assessments

Parent Communication is like the GOLDEN RULE...Treat other parents the way you would like to be treated when you are a parent.   If you think of the Golden Rule every time you communicate with one of your families...I guarantee Parent Communication will be "easy peasy" lemon squeezy!


Classroom Management made simple with Kindergarten Parent Communication Forms for Kindergarten Reading Assessment and Kindergarten Math Assessments


Classroom Management made simple with Kindergarten Parent Communication Forms for Kindergarten Reading Assessment and Kindergarten Math Assessments


February 13, 2018

A Valentine's Day Not To Be Missed

It is almost Valentine's Day!  Have I got great sweet fun in store for my class this year!  You betcha!
Valentine's Day Reading and Writing Ideas for Kindergarten, First and Second Grade


We have been taking extra steps to practice kindness in the year of 2018. While I was strolling around Michael's one day...because what teacher can actually go in and come out with just one item...I stumbled upon this cute kit to decorate a Valentine's Shoebox.  At $3 a pop, I certainly could not afford to buy one for each of my 27 students and get a bang for my buck so I decided to buy just one for the entire classroom.  Kindness Kitty was born!

Here is the gist...every student puts their name on a small paper heart and places it in "Kindness Kitty".  At a center during our Valentine's Day Party, students draw a random heart out of the Kitty.  My kiddos will then choose a red or pink heart card (thank you Michaels Crafts) and write a kind note to the chosen student.  Easy peasy!  

Every 2 weeks when small guided reading groups come to meet with me during Literacy Center Time, I give them a new Magic Finger Pointer to touch the words while reading.  I usually buy them in packs of 10 for $1-$2 a piece.  Some months I give Halloween Spooky Fingers.  Other months I give Gingerbread Pencils with giant themed erasers.  This week I scored these from the Target's "Dollar Bin",  My kiddos loved this week's reading pointer...hearts and gems!
alentine's Day Reading and Writing Ideas for Kindergarten, First and Second Grade

These mini red Carson Dellosa Cut Outs are the greatest!  I just love them because they are adorable, sturdy and themed.  I am putting some popcorn high frequency words on a few of them to add to our Valentine's Day Sensory Bin.  On a few of the other hearts, I put glued alphabet letters for kiddos to sort and make words at our Valentine's Day Word Work Station.
Valentine's Day Reading and Writing Ideas for Kindergarten, First and Second Grade

This year I am trying something new courtesy of my friends at Kinderbrations.  I just spent the last 20 minutes kneading homemade Chocolate Playdoh and does my house smell like yummy brownies or what?  Mmmm.
Valentine's Day Reading and Writing Ideas for Kindergarten, First and Second Grade

Check out their blog post for the recipe Kinderbrations Valentine's Day

So all in all, it looks like my Valentine's Day Party will Be The SWEETEST!
Happy Valentine's Day Friends :)