Parents of elementary aged children

Discussion in 'Quackenbush's' started by TheWalkingHorn, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. TheWalkingHorn

    TheWalkingHorn 500+ Posts

    I'm thinking about my classroom already even though the beginning of school is still a few weeks away. I do not have children of my own, so I'd like to ask some advice from parents:

    - What have teachers implemented in the past that you have appreciated? (this could be academic, behavioral, communication, etc)
    - What have teachers implemented in the past that you could have done without?
    - What is something you wish teachers would do/understand to help students and/or parents?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. zork

    zork 2,500+ Posts

    I like this topic.

    Both the kindergarten and first grade teachers for my oldest seemed to genuinely care about the kids. each kid got hugs as they were leaving to be picked up by parents and just overall caring was the environment that was seemingly evident. My oldest seemed to respond well to that.

    Using the "treasure box" to keep the behavior in line. It was once a week for kindergarten and once a month* for 1st grade if you followed certain rules for the week you got to pick, then in first grade if you got 30 stickers(*one eligible per day so not really per month).

    Having your "pin pulled" for a day meant bad juju for the kid at home as we got explanations for what happened. pin starts at green every day and can go to yellow as a warning and is pulled to red if bad behavior.(I guess horrible would be principle's office but we never got that far)
    Then signing the take home book everyday was a lifeline to how the kid was behaving. all together it seemed to help for the behaviors.(again just kinder and 1st grade experience so far)

    having each child's needs met instead of just group everything. There were sub groups within both the kinder and 1st grade classes that got more challenging reading materials for instance. allowing extra visits to the school library for kids slamming through the books in a day or days instead of just for one weekly visit. This was good to understand that you need to encourage kids who want to learn, accommodate them when they want to be challenged.

    magic schoolbus is a great video collection for kinder and 1st grade for those times when it is raining at recess or whatever. not just mindless crap videos if they have to be shown. make it something they will like and that they will learn by watching.

    we wanted to partner with the teacher during the year so we could help the teacher maximize their time with our kid. it seemed to work well. maybe we got lucky. it was a high performing public elementary but that was intentional on our part to try and give our kid a great experience.

    Keep control of your classroom so the kids who want to learn can do so. I don't know what to tell you if you are in a situation where that is not easily done. Good luck.
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  3. WorsterMan

    WorsterMan 10,000+ Posts

    I think it is a good sign that you really care about your kids and want to be a good teacher by seeking feedback from others like this. Hopefully you get some good info from our posters. zork offered some great advice and tips.

    My public elementary school experiences are too far back to be relevant today. My sons are grown so it has been a while since they were in elementary school, but one of the things that helped us as parents was good and frequent communication with the teacher about how they were doing. Not necessarily formal - just some feedback about how they were performing in the classroom, behavior, homework, etc. This helped us help our sons and we could reinforce what the teacher was trying to accomplish in the classroom.
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    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  4. zork

    zork 2,500+ Posts

    every grade period we would be sure to schedule a 15-30 minute time to get some explanation behind the grades and status checks along with offering our thanks and support for the teacher. helicoptering by us? perhaps but it has worked so far to be in touch with the teachers.
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  5. Crockett

    Crockett 5,000+ Posts

    When my son was in first grade students made posters about what they will be when they grow up. My son predicted "military historian" because he was into war movies, museums the USS Lexington, etc. and drew an aircraft carrier on his poster.

    As a sophomore in a good high school where he doesn't have an exceptional class rank, he's won the social studies award and participated in state classics competition. Maybe the first grade encouragement is still imporant. He had exceptional developmental first grade and first grade teachers and my son pretty much loves learning. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean he's excited to jump through every hoop the teachers put in front of him.
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  6. Dionysus

    Dionysus Cocky + Relaxed Admin

    Yes. :hookem:
    • Like Like x 1
  7. TheWalkingHorn

    TheWalkingHorn 500+ Posts

    Thanks guys, it sounds like I'm doing most of these things already. I've had to try and find a balance between having that open line of communication and not overloading the parents with e-mails.

    I should have given a little more information about my position. I teach 3rd grade math and science at a high performing public school here in Austin. I've got about 40 students on average (my class, and a switch class with my teaching partner).

    I have a pretty extensive website that has a ton of resources and links, as well as a calendar of classroom and school wide events. This year I added a page that highlights what we're learning in each of the subjects I teach. I plan on updating it every couple of weeks as we move through the concepts.

    3rd grade is the first year that students earn letter grades. My parents have access to the grade book online, so they can see how their child is doing throughout the grading period. I also send home anything that's graded.

    @zork there are teachers at my school who hug their students at the end of each day. Some of my students still do that, but others (especially boys) stop doing that as much in 3rd grade. I give them the option of a high five. :) I'm curious about the conference for every grading period. Did you contact your teacher for that, or did she/he open it up to everyone? I'm not sure where I would find the time to do that with 40+ parents every grading period.

    @Crockett one of my favorite students ever was a history buff. I nominated him for GT screening and he was identified. He was an all around gifted child, but history (and especially war history) was his thing. He went to Washington DC once, and made a power point of some of the museums that he went to. He was soooo in his element. He's going to a magnet middle school. I'm sure going to miss him!
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  8. TheWalkingHorn

    TheWalkingHorn 500+ Posts

    Ah yes, and behavior. We have awards that teachers can nominate students for. They receive it at assembly on Friday in front of the whole school, and it's always a surprise. I also do a lunch bunch at the end of the week for people who have done their homework. It's where they get to eat in the classroom and I put on a Bill Nye or Magic School Bus. They love it because it's so much quieter than the lunch room.

    I don't do any sort of behavior systems unless an individual kid needs one. They can earn "brain breaks" for good behavior, or an extra 5 minutes of recess as a class. I have "caught being good" notes that I can send home for students who have had an excellent day. My teaching partner has this little poster that she made each of us, and it's a circle that says "comfort zone" and then there's a little dot outside of it with an arrow pointing to it that says "where the magic happens". If a student has done something new, or for the first time I will e-mail the parents with a quick little anecdote about their success.

    I feel like more authentic praises and celebrations have a lasting impact on the kids rather than something tangible. At least at this age. That's not to say that I don't randomly get some goodies for my kids if they've worked hard on a project.

    Anyway, thanks everyone and any other suggestions or advice from a parent's perspective are appreciated!
  9. Crockett

    Crockett 5,000+ Posts

    You sound like a great teacher Walking Horn. If you ever want to move north, I have friends in the Denton and Lewisville ISDs. I'm sure they could find a great campus for you.
    • Like Like x 2
  10. NJlonghorn

    NJlonghorn 1,000+ Posts

    Attitude is a key factor in STEM education, especially math. Kids who love math are motivated to work harder and this leads to success. Kids who don't love math never develop the necessary skills, even if they are intellectually capable.

    This is especially true for girls. I recently saw a study showing that young girls think they are worse at math than young boys, even when they aren't. Girls are less likely to sign up for tougher HS math classes than boys, even if they have the same grades coming in. These things have to change before we can ever address the gender gaps in science and engineering professions. The best (only?) way to accomplish this is to start in the younger grades, when it is still possible to convince girls that they are good at math. (Not all of them -- just the ones who are. :smile1:)

    I'm on my town's school board, and some of our K-5 teachers are going out of their way to get girls involved in math. Some have formed math clubs and encourage girls to join. Others are encouraging kids in general, and girls in particular, to participate in math contests. These things are starting to make a difference.

    Using girl-centered homework problems can make a difference too. "Carli Lloyd took 15 shots in the World Cup. Three missed the goal and 4 were stopped by the goalie. All of the others went into the goal. How many went into the goal?" Too easy for third grade, but you get the point.
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  11. nashhorn

    nashhorn 2,500+ Posts

    Wow, WH you sound like an outstanding teacher, glad you're in the profession! I have a daughter that teaches science to eight graders at a Magnet School in Nashville. She loves her job as it sounds so do you. I have heard her speak of many similar approaches you describe; mainly recognition of individual effort/achievement and getting parental involvement.
    You have my utmost respect and admiration in you're choice of profession! :hookem:
    • Like Like x 1
  12. LonghornCatholic

    LonghornCatholic Romantic Catholic

    I think it would be good to have some holy santos brought to the schools; to guard the hallway, and bring good luck.
    El Santo Nino de Atocha is a good one. My aunt Concha has seen him.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  13. TheWalkingHorn

    TheWalkingHorn 500+ Posts

    I was part of a book study team on this theory that many adults still have, and that is being passed down to young girls. I even thought this about myself until I took college level math courses and then was sort of like "oh... I CAN do this". When I'm interacting with people and math is involved I am still somewhat self-conscious, and then I want to kick myself when I had the right answer all along.

    I would like to think that I'm projecting a self-confident image to my students, and I KNOW I'm definitely encouraging them to be confident in themselves.

    I like the idea of using word problems to skew the idea of gender roles. I could also use the kids names and insert something about them that they may lack confidence in.

    Thanks for the advice!
  14. zork

    zork 2,500+ Posts

    We did most of the contacting. It turned out to be about 4 meetings, 2 each half of the year so we probably missed 2 of the grading periods. Whatever we did it seems to be working great so far.
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