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Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences

Just when you think you've finally got the routine down, it's suddenly time for Parent-Teacher Conferences!

 
Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.


Honestly, I have a "love-hate" relationship for Parent-Teacher Conferences.  Why? Well, they certainly are a whole lot of work, along with late nights, which is the "hate" part. 

But sitting and chatting about little ones you care about with other people who care about that little one can be very enlightening, and very satisfying. 

Most parents I've worked with are really, really nice people! I particularly love it when I've already had a member of the family, and I get to "hang out" with parents I already know. (Of course, the down side to this, is that it's even harder at the end of the year to say goodbye to a family with whom you've had a 2 year relationship!)

Conferences shouldn't be the first communication you've had with a parent. Newsletters, personal notes and phone calls should have already happened so parents already know who you are.

I find being super prepared helps the conferences go more smoothly. I start sending home notifications requesting conference dates and times, and I send home this form for parents to fill out and send back before the conference.
 
Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.
 

I find this form gives me a lot of information. Once I get the form back, I can start preparing my paperwork for Conference night:
 
 
Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.

I've left this form a bit more flexible, since the kids and their needs are all so very different. The "strengths" and "need to improve" sections can be filled out ahead of time, and any questions from parents on the questionnaire can go into the "things to think about" section. 

As behaviors or struggles appear during the week before conferences, I'll be sure to run to my pile of conference notes and jot things down, so things will be fresh in my mind.

Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.
 
1.  Keep a couple of bottles of water nearby. (I get very dry from all that talking!)
2. Post a schedule outside your door so parents are aware of your limited time.
3. Slip in a couple of extra meetings ("meeting with principal") or "meeting with Mrs. Smith")  These are your bathroom/ snack breaks. (See step 1... water!)
4. Keep a couple of chairs outside your door along with things for parents and siblings to do. I usually keep the children's writing folders in the hall, along with some books and blocks for the kiddos to use. Some people keep some mints outside as well. (Keep a few for yourself, too!)
5. Dress comfortably. Yes, it's important to look professional, but it's not "date night."  I keep a little extra makeup, brush, comb, and a toothbrush in my desk to freshen up, but being neat and professional looking is most important.
6. Don't hesitate to ask an administrator to sit in during a conference if you think there may be some challenges.  They're usually glad to sit in, and often learn a lot about your teaching and your students. Just warn the parents ahead of time.
7. Be sure to invite others who also work with the child, when appropriate: Title I, OT, PT, Sped, SLP, and even Art, Music, or Phys. Ed. 

Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.
 
1. Smile and say hello. Show everyone involved where to sit.
2. Start by saying something positive about the child. That shouldn't be too tough, but it's important to start on a positive note.
3. One of the most valuable phrases I learned in my teaching experience was this: "he's working on..." If a child doesn't already have a skill, he's certainly working on it. It sounds so much better than "he's not good at..."
4. It's a good idea to have work samples nearby, especially if the child is struggling in some area.
5. Make sure you say something personal that has nothing to do with school. "David has such a nice friendship with Paul."
6. End the meeting by repeating something positive about the child. 
7. The following day, make a copy of your conference notes to share with parents. File your own copy where you can check it frequently.

Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.



Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.






 

 Be prepared and you will be successful!

 
Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.

Young Teachers or Old Teachers?

Who is actually better at teaching, the young teachers, or the old teachers. 
 
Young Teachers or Old Teachers? This post addresses the qualities of new teachers and veteran teachers, as well as some qualities that truly make a great teacher!
 

First of all, I've taught for 40 years, so I prefer to use the term "Veteran" teacher! 

Here are a few of the stereotypical comments I hear about younger teachers:
Young Teachers or Old Teachers? This post addresses the qualities of new teachers and veteran teachers, as well as some qualities that truly make a great teacher!

*Young teachers are enthusiastic and energetic.
*Young teachers have new ideas.
*Young teachers are better at computers and technology.
*Young teachers are closer to the age of the students, therefore relate more to their students.
*Young teachers are more eager to learn more about teaching.
*Young teachers have better fashion sense, and are more attractive.
*Young teachers are more flexible with changes.
*Young teachers are less reliable.
*Young teachers are less loyal. They are more than willing to leave a school district for a better paying job.

I'm sure you could add to this list!

Now here are some stereotypes about "Veteran" teachers.
Young Teachers or Old Teachers? This post addresses the qualities of new teachers and veteran teachers, as well as some qualities that truly make a great teacher!
*Older teachers are less flexible and set in their ways.
*Old teachers are just waiting until they can retire and don't really care anymore.
*Older teachers prefer older methods, like chalkboards and worksheets.
*Older teachers have trouble with computers and technology.
*Older teachers are burned out.
*Older teachers are more experienced, and can boost test scores due to their experience.
*Older teachers have a lot of tricks up their sleeves.
*Older teachers should be given the more challenging students, because they can handle them.
*Older teachers have proved their loyalty to their school by staying as long as they have.
*Older teachers know the history of the school.
I'm sure you could add to this list, too!
So which is better?
Young Teachers or Old Teachers? This post addresses the qualities of new teachers and veteran teachers, as well as some qualities that truly make a great teacher!
I'm sure you know teachers who fit these descriptions, and I'm sure you know teachers who don't. How many of these stereotypes are true, and how many are not?
I'll suspect you know this: it depends on the individual teacher! 
*I've known young teachers who have a lot of tricks up their sleeves, and I've known veteran teachers who are enthusiastic and energetic!
*I've known young teachers who can handle the challenging students and veteran teachers who are flexible and can relate well with the students.
*I've known young teachers who struggle with technology, and I've known veteran teachers who are quick to find a better paying job elsewhere.

Honestly, these are the qualities I've seen in teachers of all ages that make them great teachers:
*A passion for teaching
*A love for children
*A strong work ethic
*A team player
*A role model
*A desire to keep getting better
*High expectations
*A good communicator
*A good listener
*Kindness
*A sense of humor

Honestly, I find schools work best with a balance of young teachers and veteran teachers who have the above qualities. 
What would you add to the list above?

Young Teachers or Old Teachers? This post addresses the qualities of new teachers and veteran teachers, as well as some qualities that truly make a great teacher!


Have You Heard About Boom Learning Digital Task Cards?

If you haven't tried Boom Learning Digital Task Cards, you need to get on this, they are amazing!

Have You Heard About Boom Digital Task Cards? They make learning fun for students and easier for teachers. If you haven't, here's a great chance to try them out!

Here's a quick video with an overview on what these cards are all about.
 


Here's another quick video, explaining a little more.


This second video was created by Melissa of I HEART 4th Grade. (She did a nice job explaining it, didn't she?)

What do I like most about Boom Digital Task Cards?


1. The kids LOVE them!

2. They are very easy for teachers to assign and differentiate, and check in on how the children are performing.

3. They can be used on ANY device: laptops, desktops, SMARTboards, ipads, tablets, and phones. (You can grab the app HERE!)

4. That means they can use them at home! They can practice their task cards on mom's phone while waiting for sister to finish her gymnastics class or brother to finish his soccer game!

5. Children get immediate feedback, which is so important for learning! If they work hard, they earn badges and gems!

6. No printing, cutting, or laminating! 

Want to try some? I have a couple of freebies for you: 

 

Weather Words, Plant Words, or Desserts?
 





I've been having so much fun making these, I've made a whole addition and subtraction bundle for all 8 brain based levels, plus 2 extra reviews. 


But that's not all! I've added ALL TEN BOOM Task Cards to the collection of Brain Friendly Addition and Subtraction Fact Practice and Assessment.


Plus, you know what? I've made similar sets for Multiplication and Division!


And the updated full practice and assessment set, now including BOOM Learning digital task card practice:

I have loads of BOOM cards in lots of subject areas.  You can find them HERE.
 
Have You Heard About Boom Digital Task Cards? They make learning fun for students and easier for teachers. If you haven't, here's a great chance to try them out!

 
 

Five "MUST DOs" on the First Day of School

  Starting a new school year?

Five "Must Dos" on the first day of school: There are a whole lot of fun things to do on that first day, but these are 5 things I'll make sure happen every first day!

A few years ago, I posted THIS

Six Things to remember on the first day of school: for novices and experienced teachers, some helpful reminders for that big day!

I listed six things that are important for that first day, but I want to mention some specifics that I make sure I do every year on the first day of school.

Five "Must Dos" on the first day of school: There are a whole lot of fun things to do on that first day, but these are 5 things I'll make sure happen every first day!

1. Start with something that holds their interest, yet needs no instruction!

If your school is anything like mine, the kiddos stroll in bit by bit on the first day. 

As each child comes in, of course you'll need to greet them and tell them how glad you are to see them, where to put their belongings, and help them find their seats. 

Therefore the others need to be doing something that doesn't need your help.  Here are some examples:

1. Draw a picture/ write a sentence about themselves. (Depending on their abilities, of course!)
2. Clay or Play Dough
3. Explore manipulatives like Pattern Blocks or Cuisenaire Rods.
4. Puzzles. (at their level, of course!) 

I'm sure you can think of more!
Five "Must Dos" on the first day of school: There are a whole lot of fun things to do on that first day, but these are 5 things I'll make sure happen every first day!

2. Bathroom Procedure!

They do tend to get nervous about this, don't they? As soon as everyone is in place, I tell them what they need to do if they need to use the bathroom. 

Of course, I try to remind them about bathroom etiquette without being too "parent-like" about it..."Since you're second graders, you don't need to be reminded to wash your hands when you finish, do you?"

We have a bathroom in our classroom, so I show them how to lock the door for privacy, how the door unlocks automatically from the inside when you turn the handle, what do if the bathroom is in use (Knock!) what to say if you're in there and someone knocks, ("just a minute") and where to wait if someone is in there. (NOT near the door, since many are self-conscious about someone listening when they're in there.)

Five "Must Dos" on the first day of school: There are a whole lot of fun things to do on that first day, but these are 5 things I'll make sure happen every first day!

3. Read to them!

I truly believe the most important thing we can teach children is the value of reading. Since in the younger grades, the kiddos are still learning to read, the most important thing is to teach them a love for books. There are a whole lot of fabulous "first day of school" books, but I always choose to read one of my very favorites.

Five "Must Dos" on the first day of school: There are a whole lot of fun things to do on that first day, but these are 5 things I'll make sure happen every first day!

Five "Must Dos" on the first day of school: There are a whole lot of fun things to do on that first day, but these are 5 things I'll make sure happen every first day! 

Five "Must Dos" on the first day of school: There are a whole lot of fun things to do on that first day, but these are 5 things I'll make sure happen every first day!

Why do I choose one of my favorites?  Because it's important that the children see my passion for books. The above book images represent 3 of my very favorites. Every time I've read these, the children have LOVED the books, talked about the books, and looked for the books to read again themselves. I'm sure you have your favorites, too! Those would be the ones to read the first day.

Just be sure to keep it short. Remember, the children haven't had to sit still for a long time!

Five "Must Dos" on the first day of school: There are a whole lot of fun things to do on that first day, but these are 5 things I'll make sure happen every first day!

4. Today's Math Lesson: Make a graph!

 
There are several children who worry about dismissal time. Will they find their bus? Will they know where to go? Will they find their way home? 

I try to settle those worries long before the end of the day by making a graph as our very first math lesson. 
Five "Must Dos" on the first day of school: There are a whole lot of fun things to do on that first day, but these are 5 things I'll make sure happen every first day!
This is the form I use that is specific to my school and my music theme in the classroom. You may notice we have no walkers, That's because it's a very rural community and there are no sidewalks!

One by one, I'll ask each student where they go after school, check it with my master list, then put their name on the list. (I already have a list, but I want to make sure THEY know!) The children can follow along on their own copy if they want, but I'll keep a master list. 

When we're done, the list might look something like this:
Five "Must Dos" on the first day of school: There are a whole lot of fun things to do on that first day, but these are 5 things I'll make sure happen every first day!


Just to get their brains going, I'll ask a few questions (Which bus group has the most children?  Which bus group has exactly 3 children?) Then I'll encourage them to ask each other questions that can be answered by the graph.

Then we'll practice for the end of the day. I'll assign each group a "waiting spot" for the end of the day. I make it clear to each member of the group that they need to work as a team, and make sure all team members make it to the bus safely.

I know in some schools, teachers walk their children to the bus. In our school, the buses are called as each one arrives, and the teacher stays in the classroom while the others wait for their bus. Since I can't go with them, I count on them looking out for each other. 

What about Evan and Michael, who are the only ones from our class who ride those buses? I make it the responsibility of the whole class to make sure these guys leave on time, and I usually look to the nearby classes so they'll see someone they know is on their bus.  

Team work matters! Let's get them all home safely!

Five "Must Dos" on the first day of school: There are a whole lot of fun things to do on that first day, but these are 5 things I'll make sure happen every first day!

5. Enjoy!

If you're anything  like most teachers I know (including myself) you've wanted to be a teacher all your life. This is what you've always wanted to do! It's a very difficult job, but the rewards are totally worth it. Enjoy those children. Let them see how much you enjoy them. It's a win-win!

Five "Must Dos" on the first day of school: There are a whole lot of fun things to do on that first day, but these are 5 things I'll make sure happen every first day!

Paper Bag Dramatics: A Fun Activity for Team Building and Developing Community

Here's a fun activity that's easy to put together, gives the children a chance to be creative, and gives them a chance to work together. It's called Paper Bag Dramatics.

Paper Bag Dramatics: A fun activity for Team Building and Developing Community. Here's an idea that can be used just about anywhere at any time. It encourages groups to solve problems, think creatively, and work as a team.

You'll need enough paper bags for as many groups you'll have. They can work in pairs or small groups, depending on your group.

In each paper bag, you'll put a few items.These can be any items you happen to have hanging around.You can make all the bags identical, or totally different, that's up to you!

You'll need 3 or 4 items per bag.

Here are some ideas:

Paper Bag Dramatics: A fun activity for Team Building and Developing Community. Here's an idea that can be used just about anywhere at any time. It encourages groups to solve problems, think creatively, and work as a team.

If you want, you can have all the items in the bag follow a theme, possibly including areas of the curriculum!

This is the task: Create a skit that includes all the items in the bag. The group will need to write, practice, and perform the play for their classmates.


Some ideas about the process:


1. The time allowed really depends on your group. It's more likely that older groups will require more time than younger groups.

2. Make sure each group plans a beginning, middle, and especially an ending for their skit.

3. Make some ground rules before you begin: one person speaking at a time, someone to write down ideas, what to do if there is a disagreement, and, of course, using good manners.

4. Resist the urge to "help". This challenge is all about problem solving, so let them solve problems as much as they can. I can't help but remember the comments of one of my former students concerning problems in a group project: "We argued at first, then we started listening to each other, and we worked it out." It was one of those moments you really wish an administrator were there!

5. Don't forget to allow time for bows and lots of applause!

6. After all performances, debrief by having the children discuss questions such as: What did your group do well? What was tough for your group? What do you wish you had done differently? What do you want to remember next time you work with a group?

Enjoy your Paper Bag Dramatics!


If you need more ideas for team building, see here: 60 Team Building Games and Activities 
 
Looking for something that can be used for socially distant or remote learning? 20 Socially Distant Team Building Games

Paper Bag Dramatics: A fun activity for Team Building and Developing Community. Here's an idea that can be used just about anywhere at any time. It encourages groups to solve problems, think creatively, and work as a team.






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