As the mom of two, I can assure you that one of the most important ways to build a solid relationship with parents is by showing them how their student is doing in class! Of course, we share report cards and assessment scores (like my ready-to-go kindergarten assessments), but what else can we show to provide a look into student progress for parents?
One of the most common requests I get from fellow teachers is for me to look over and help create effective parent communication. Here are 2 easy ways to ensure you have meaningful and productive conversations and conferences with parents!
Show and Tell
While it is our job to know what the stages of primary writing look like, it is not common knowledge for most parents and caregivers. By having a show and tell with parents, you’re really just 1)Clearly communicating what students are learning, step by step (showing your overarching unit goals would be helpful here), and 2) Showing parents examples of developmentally appropriate work. By doing this, we take away a lot of the guessing that parents may be doing when it comes to understanding how well their child is doing with writing. Parents and caregivers want to know what to celebrate with their children and what areas to improve on- so giving them specific reference points is a huge help!
If you’re looking for some, you can find ready-to-go parent letters in each of my writing units with everything laid out. If not, you can send out monthly newsletters, or add expectations and examples to your open house presentations at the start of the year. The more parents and caregivers know, the more confident they will feel in helping their writers practice from home.
‘Tis the Season for Parent Conferences
For most educators, at least twice a year, it is parent conference season. This can mean a lot of extra prep work for teachers to prepare, but we can make it easier with streamlined systems in place! We have all heard the advice to start every parent conference with a positive, specific student strength…but I am going to say it again: “Start every parent conference with a positive, specific student strength!!!”
This is so impactful and goes a long way in creating a positive parent-teacher relationship. As a parent, I need to know that you are excited about what my child CAN do. An easy way to show student strength and growth is by using writing prompts from the year. Keep a collection of these each month to show progress. You can use any writing prompts, but these writing prompts are great because they incorporate the writing process. Each month, ask students to turn one in and add it to a portfolio. It’ll be easy to see the progression of their writing and parents will enjoy seeing the progress as well.
You can also use journals, class projects, or even my quick check pages from my writing units by saving them in those student portfolios along with the final product from a unit of writing. Growing student portfolios can be kept in filing cabinets, binders, milk crates, filing boxes, wherever you have the space! Remember, parents and caregivers will be able to physically see the changes and progress their student has made in writing both in conferences and at the end of the year when you send everything home.
By clearly communicating developmentally appropriate writing to your parents and caregivers, you are setting everyone up for success! My parents and caregivers always comment that they enjoy learning about the writing process and stages alongside their students, so helping parents understand what their students should be doing is paramount!