Relationships are the bedrock of teaching. We seek to create meaningful, trusting relationships with the learners in our classroom, the colleagues we collaborate with, and the caregivers who entrust us with that which they hold most precious. From weekly updates on what is happening in the classroom to personalized notes home, we seek to bridge the gap between home and school, knowing that positive relationships are powerful and can impact learning within the classroom. Here are a few manageable ways to help build bridges between home and school, enhancing learning for students.
Shout outs are a simple and quick way to acknowledge learners in a positive way. Keeping a stack of cards on hand helps capture beautiful noticings at the spur-of-a moment. Extending this practice into grade level team meetings can make Shout Outs even more meaningful when comments from other teachers who work with the students are included.
While simple and easy, Shout Outs can feel overwhelming if time is not set aside to keep up. Blocking out 15-20 minutes on the calendar every few days helps to keep this practice from fading away. Keeping a running record or checklist of students who have received a Shout Out helps to ensure all students receive recognition throughout the year. Caregivers are provided with positive noticings about their learner, which helps build trust and a positive relationship between home and school.
Another way to strengthen the home-school connection is through regular class updates. Updates can offer peeks into the classroom and even summaries of what has occurred throughout the week… beautiful language collected from student writing, a preview of what is yet to come. . . the possibilities are endless! Sending newsletters home often happens in elementary school and drops off sharply in middle and high school; however, many caregivers still welcome a pulse on what is happening in the classroom.
Often secondary students are reluctant to open up dialogue around what is happening at school. Regular updates help encourage conversations at home as they offer starting points for caregivers to discuss learning with the child. To help open up discussion, conversation starters can be included and tailored to what you are doing in class, or be generic in nature.
Sharing Goal Setting and Reflection
Periodic goal setting and reflection that is shared with caregivers throughout the writing process is one way to include them in their writer’s journey and strengthen the home-school connection.
This can be shared in many ways: in their writer’s notebook, through a separate structured document, or even through an email written by the writer and addressed to their caregiver. How the reflection is shared is less important than that it is shared. Caregivers are invited to be part of the learning journey and writers are encouraged to make their intentions concrete and visible.
Shout Outs, weekly newsletters, the sharing of goal setting and reflection are just a few ways to bridge the gap between school and home. Caregivers know what is happening in the classroom, but more importantly, they get a sense for what is happening with their learner. The golden triangle of home, student, and school is strengthened.