Thinking about Carmen’s experiences at her “Meet the Teacher” night reinforces for me how important it is to connect with the families of our students.
Building inclusion goes beyond what we do in our classrooms and if we are going to connect with family members, using less jargon and the words of our students can make a difference.
When our “Meet the Teacher” night came, I asked my students, “What would you like to share with your families about our classroom?” and the answers started pouring in. Not surprisingly, there was very little emphasis on curriculum!!! They wanted to share what they had helped to create: our reading corner, the desk setup, how they can earn class points and so on.
So, I took all their ideas and made a checklist, which they could access when they came in with their families. It was so exciting to observe my students bringing their families into their world at school. It also gave me an opportunity to observe the relationships they have with parents, siblings and grandparents. Once the “tour” was done, then I could chat with family members and answer any questions they had.
Each family left with handouts of the topics we would be covering throughout the year (which still tend to be a bit of an overdose on jargon) so to balance this out, I also send home newsletters with questions that family members can ask my students about what they are learning (see section below). We call it an “Ask-Me” letter and my students helped me develop the questions for their families.
Writing Personal Stories – Ask me…
-what is a seed story and a watermelon story?
-what is the difference between storytelling and telling a story?
-how am I writing the lead to my story?
Problem-solving in Math – Ask me…
-what are some ways you can solve a problem?
-what is one strategies that has worked for me?
-what is “working backwards” or “guess and check”?
Ideally, I hope to have them design the next newsletter, but for now, it’s a start!!!