I am very fortunate to teach at a school in which parent involvement is high, teachers are respected and supported, and education is valued. Home-school communication is one aspect of management that I pride myself on, as I make myself quite accessible to my parents. My parents, students, and myself are (usually) all on the same page, and I think that has a lot to do with the routines I establish early in the school year. Here are some of the things I do to make sure we're all "in the know":
1. Monday Planners - On Monday mornings, I have my students fill in their weekly planner. They copy down the skills/strategies we'll be working on, homework, spelling/vocabulary words, upcoming tests and events. They take their planners home every Monday to get signed by a parent (due Tuesday).
2. Weekly Newsletters - Last year, all my parents had internet access, so I was able to email my weekly newsletter. On the newsletter, I explicitly report what students should be learning in every subject area, and often give suggestions on how parents can assist their children at home. Of course, the normal stuff, like important dates, weekly words, thank yous, etc are also found on the newsletter. Only very rarely did I have parents say they didn't know about this or that. My reply was usually, "Yes, it was indicated on the newsletter dated ..." Check out some examples of my Weekly Newsletters on the, um, Weekly Newsletters page.
3. BEE Books - I put together BEE (Bring Everything Everyday) Books last year for all of my students, which contained a ton of much needed information in plastic page protectors. Let's see...there was a class contact list, money pouch, ABCs of 3rd grade, Homework Directions Sheet, Frequently Misspelled Word list, and a bunch of other resources. It also contained the...
4. Monthly Behavior Calendar - It looks like a regular old calendar, but in every Friday box, there's a spot for Parent Initials. I would jot a note when a student didn't turn in HW, didn't complete class work, had a behavior issue, etc.The behavior calendar was expected to be signed and returned to school every Monday. Click HERE to see the Monthly Behavior Calendars for 2010-2011. I'll post the ones for 2011-2012 when I get around to making them! : )
5. This Blog - I started this blog last year, and I was good about updating it at the beginning of the year, but not so much towards the middle. Part of the problem was that I wasn't able to access blogger at school. I would like to do better this year!
6. Mystery Readers - It is very rare that we don't have a parent come in to read to the class every Friday. The kids love it, the parents love it, and hey, so do I! It's fun to hear a voice other than mine doing read alouds.
7. Open House - I work on a fabulous team, and we put on an awesome open house presentation in September. I think parents walk away feeling confident that their child is in our capable hands! Heehee.
I also email my parents frequently as things come up, send home study guides for tests, and generally do my best to be proactive, instead of being reactive. I hate being behind the 8-ball!