Families come in many forms. A good rapport with parents, siblings, and grandparents can make all the difference in building a classroom and school community. Here are some creative suggestions for reaching out to families through conferences, special events, and volunteer opportunities. Our contributors also share the challenges of communicating with parents, and what they've learned when they've failed to connect.
Katherine Sokolowski has tips for improving parent conferences by using technology for flexible scheduling and easy follow-up.
Ruth Ayres and her colleagues use a marriage analogy to help middle school students and their families understand the research process. The article includes a nifty example of a pamphlet to share with parents.
What can you learn from having toddlers "read" to you? Plenty, as Meghan Rose soon discovers.
Katie DiCesare explores how to develop routines early in the year, and includes advice to give to parents to build the home/school connection around expectations for independence.
Even if you have no plans to apply for a new job anytime soon, creating a resume can be a wonderful catalyst for defining who you are and what you value. It’s also a great document to share with parents and new students. Amanda Adrian explains its creative uses.
Katherine Sokolowski finds the impulse for reflection is strong at the start of summer, but reflection works best when it’s built into routines all year long.
Early readers love comic books and graphic novels. Meghan Rose and Ruth Shagoury give their top picks in their latest summer fun for early readers booklist.
Meghan Rose and Ruth Shagoury have written a series of booklists for early readers, perfect for sharing with parents looking for suggestions. The first installment tackles the classic books many of us cherish from our own childhood days.
Cathy Mere explains how she uses technology to stay in touch with students and families over the summer.
We've all experienced that moment in a parent conference. You finish your spiel, which includes assessment data, charts, and an anecdote or two about the child. And when you're finished, the parent asks, "But how is my child doing?" Melissa Kolb explores the reasons why there can be a mismatch between our sense of useful information in parent conferences and a parent's expectations.
Jennifer Vincent details strategies and shares survey templates she uses in reaching out to families.
Family Literacy Nights have become popular in many schools. Principal Jennifer Schwanke describes the format for a successful event, including a sample program and tips.
Meghan Rose may live in Los Angeles, but the home of her heart will always be New England. In this booklist, she shares her favorite picture books about everything from the Red Sox to Maine blueberries to give her children a sense of where she grew up.
Maria Caplin shares how and why she began to collaborate with Gretchen Taylor, a sixth-grade teacher who would soon be the middle school teacher for some of her students.
Gretchen Taylor explains her role in observing Maria’s fifth-grade classroom, and then building a relationship with students and their families.
Some of the most treasured notes for many of us are the inscriptions in books that are gifts from others. Meghan Rose shares why inscribed books have lasting value for families.
Meghan Rose gives a mom’s perspective on comics for young children in this booklist. This is from our new series, Home is Where the Books Are, on literacy in the home from birth to age 5.
Principal Jennifer Schwanke looks at the challenging issue of retention and the power of teamwork.
Melissa Kolb writes about the importance of time and patience in meeting our goals with young learners — in this instance, a child who struggles to speak in her preschool classroom.
Teachers are always on the hunt for something new, even as we cherish what works well year after year. Franki Sibberson lists the activities that have stood the test of time in her classroom.
Heather Rader and Jennifer Taft share strategies for positive communication with parents.
Gretchen Taylor finds middle school parents enjoy hearing about their child’s day — it’s just a matter of getting creative in dealing with the large number of families.
Jennifer Schwanke finds connections between her childhood, teaching, and school leadership in this heartwarming essay.
"When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind." These words from the book Wonder set Katherine Sokolowski on the path of designing a shared reading experience at her school that will build community and empathy across the grades.
Amanda Adrian ponders end-of-year celebrations, as well as the haves and have-nots, in schools.
Katherine Sokolowski comes up with a novel way to boost kids’ reading and her summer income —hosting a reading camp in her home.
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan present some of the anecdotes and research they would share with parents during open houses and conferences.
Video is a terrific tool for building connections between home and school. Heather Rader explains how Kelli Demonte uses video to guide children and communicate with families.
There is always a new tweak to consider with conferences involving families. Choice Literacy Contributors have both the head and heart in mind with these tips.
Here are some suggestions from Choice Literacy Contributors of the best ways to close out the year, with everything from personal organizing tips to family events.
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