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Keeping Parent Communication Open in Middle School

Last year was a mixed year for Tara’s seventh-grade son. He had some successes but some consistent difficulty with focusing in class, leading to an overall difficult year. There were...

Homework Challenges

This professional development session is designed to help participants explore the concept of weekly “homework challenges,” as well as to consider what is working well with their homework program and...

A Homework-Free Classroom

I don’t believe in homework. There. I said it. I am a teacher and a mom, and I don’t believe in homework. My daughters are seven and nine years old....

Summer Literacy

“What can I do to help my son and daughter stay sharp and not lose momentum? They have come so far this school year, and I am afraid they will...

Unadulterated Reading

My son sighed in exasperation and yelled across the table, “Why does my mom have to be a reading teacher?!” There it was. The dreaded phrase that I have come...

Conferences with Parents of English Language Learners

In​ ​the​ ​past​ ​decade,​ ​my​ ​school​ ​population​ ​had​ ​shifted​ ​dramatically.​ ​Transiency,​ ​shifting​ ​attendance​ ​lines,​ ​and the​ ​passage​ ​of​ ​time​ ​has​ ​changed​ ​our​ ​school​ ​population​ ​such​ ​that​ ​we​ ​have​ ​a​ ​significant​...

Conferences Between Middle School Parents and Teachers

The week after school started, my 14-year-old nephew announced he would have four study halls during eighth grade. My sister looked at me for an explanation, her face expressing pained...

Ohana Means “Family”

Ohana is the Hawaiian word for “family,” with a meaning that is both simple and complex. Ohana includes the people to whom you’re related, as well as the larger group...

One Child, Many Stories

Have you ever sat down in front of a student’s data and still felt like you don’t have any answers to your questions? Those moments are too familiar to me...

Parent Book Clubs

This year, one of our district goals was to improve and increase our communications with families. We accomplished this partly by using Google Classroom and sending updates to families about...

Better Parent-Teacher Conferences

I have a love/hate relationship with parent-teacher conferences. Or rather, a love-hate relationship with the ongoing inner conversations I have about conferences. I’m not referring to the meetings and conversations...

School-to-Home Journals

I love school-to-home journals. I’m talking about the type where a student writes a letter to someone at home once or twice a week, and that someone—a parent, usually, but...

Explaining a Workshop Model to Parents (Part 2)

A friend recently went with her mother to an important medical appointment. When she spoke to the physician, she found herself confused and unsure: “He was using words I didn’t...

Explaining a Workshop Model to Parents

I frequently sit in on parent-teacher conferences, most often when a student is struggling in class or when a parent is particularly concerned about a child’s progress. In doing so,...

Parent in a Foreign Land

For students who are new to the English language, nothing comes easily: they have to work hard to figure out a new language, new customs, new foods, new friendships, and...

Student-Led Conferences from Many Perspectives

In Ohio, teaching third grade has become particularly challenging, as it is sometimes difficult not to be consumed with test scores and test results. We have an Ohio law called...

Bringing Writers’ Voices Home with QR Codes

I love the feeling of wrapping up a unit of study in writing. I love watching my students choose a favorite piece and prepare to make it public by adding...

Alternatives to Home/School Reading Logs

When I announced to my fourth graders that we would not be having reading logs this year, they breathed a collective sigh of relief, and a whispered chorus of thanks...

Channeling Monet

She wanted to come into my class to “volunteer and observe.” I understood the desire to volunteer, but I struggled to make sense of her purpose in observing. Usually when...

Learning to Observe: Inviting a Parent to a Tutoring Session

But—more than anything—I liked him because he treated me as a companion and conversationalist in my own right. —Donna Tartt, in The Goldfinch Persistent parents, pushy parents, perpetually pestering parents....

Helping Parents Talk with Students

My educational work as a tutor brings me into contact with parents. These are parents with children who struggle, and literacy learning is a challenge. I am entrusted to intervene...