The new year is here!! Don’t forget you are getting a new set of parents, too. They have just entrusted you with the most valuable thing in their life…their child. This is a special guest post from The Classroom Chef co-author and Table Talk Math author, John Stevens. Enjoy!
You’ve decorated the walls.
You’ve organized the desks.
You’ve researched new teaching methods.
You’ve planned out every detail of that coveted first day.
You’ve thought through every detail of how you’re going to welcome your new roster of students.
…or have you?
We know that the first few days of school are crucial to develop relationships with your students, build trust with them, and lay out the expectations you all have for each other. We also know that a tone is set from the moment those clumsy feet cross through your doorway and into the place you will spend at least 180 hours with them over the next 10 months. You will get to know them, go through successes and struggles with them, and become a family in many ways.
Speaking of family, what about the family?
When I drop my children off for their first day of school, I am passing them on to a complete stranger, someone I am entrusting to keep my children safe, make them feel like they matter, and to improve upon the people we have helped them become. I understand that there are going to be some rough patches and that they aren’t going to be perfect, but I expect that the discipline model you implement is fair and understood, and that you would keep me informed when something needs to be addressed. After all, even when these 180 days are over, I will always remember the way you made my children feel about education.
So, with that, welcome me to your class in some way.
Send me a letter, thanking me for the opportunity to teach my children.
Email me a video showing how excited you are for the upcoming school year.
Ask me to write about my children so we can have some sort of connection.
Help my child write a welcome letter from your class to me.
Tell me a little bit about yourself, and don’t save it for Parent Night.
Invite me to join a Remind text message group of Class Dojo account.
Share more than the syllabus as a welcome mat to your class.
Ever since writing Table Talk Math, I have thought increasingly more about what we are doing to support the parents of our students. After all, they want to help, but oftentimes don’t know how or don’t know where to look for ideas. In the book, I share a lot of ideas on how parents can support math-based conversations at home, which is a far cry from the standard “Friday Folder” or packet of homework that parents are encourage to help their kids complete–or not. It may sound like this is geared toward teachers of K-5 students, but that’s far from the truth. In fact, the older the student, the more imperative it is to keep the parents engaged and interested in their child’s learning.
Recently, I saw a tweet that was attempting to capture high school students’ goals for the year. What a great idea! The unfortunate side effect of 10+ years of schooling showed in the responses, seeing that all but one of the three dozen notes had a direct tie-in to grades. I get that there is a major push to focus on grades as a gateway to college, better jobs, and more, but I fear that a sole goal of getting an A will reduce a child’s education to the letter that shows up on a transcript. Kids are more than an accumulation of letters over 12+ years, and we can all do a better job of reinforcing that.
My conjecture is that supporting parents throughout the academic journey of their children will yield positive results in ways that we have never before seen.
When your room is ready, and you are set to welcome that new group of students, remember that you’re not just getting new students; you’re also getting their families.
Thanks to John for this guest post!! His two DBC Inc books have sparked amazing discussions about teaching in general and math instruction in particular. You can find the Classroom Chef co-written by Matt Vaudrey right here and Table Talk Math right here. I wrote a blog called Rejecting Fast Food Education on The Classroom Chef and check out the 7 Reasons to Judge #TableTalkMath by its Cover post, too!
Thanks! Have a great start to the year.
PS: His Table Talk Math site and email list is FREE!! Sign up RIGHT HERE!