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August 13, 2009

Building Relationships with a Student's Family to Manage Behavior

By Eric Antuna
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    If you are like me, so often at the beginning of the year, you find yourself in the middle of putting up butcher paper on bulletin boards, organizing centers, getting libraries together, and arranging desks, that often you kind of put off that first day: what to do. Many of us have first day activities (mine is at the end), class letters for parents, and homework (yikes!) already to go. But, that age-old adage always rings a bell about now: First impressions really do matter.

    Now, I'm not saying that you have to dress with your best Prada on your first day (your professional attire will do just fine!), but making that connection with parents on a personal level will do wonders in creating a warm and welcoming classroom. That parent connection is so vital to home-school communication, spending just a few minutes the first day of school meeting with parents before school, after school, even during school as they are walking to get the little ones to their kindergarten classroom goes a long way in parents and family members understanding that you not only are their child's teacher, but also someone who cares about the success of a young person.

    As a side note, I define 'parent' as any parental figure for that particular student — be it a brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa, they are all the same. Many of the students at our school have one or no biological parents in the home, making understanding each child's family dynamic that much more important and meaningful. This also helps when writing cards during holidays and birthdays, keeping things generic such as "Write a card to someone in your family you'd like to thank," instead of "Write a letter to your parents thanking them." Or when addressing notes home: "To the Family of" seems more inclusive than: "To the Parents of".

    Going back to management, when making that contact with parents on that first day, you get to know them on a more personal level, even calling them by first name. When a child disrupts your class, you have your classroom management system (or if you're looking for a different one, try www.powerteachers.org) that helps provide students with various consequences, a note or call home is most likely one.  Imagine pulling out your cell phone and telling the defiant student, "Should I call Sheila to tell her how you are behaving in class?" That first name/personal relation with the parent makes a big difference in managing students.

    Of course this will not work with all students, nor is it for just defiant students. Maintaining that contact is important for helping parents understand student progress, achievement, and accolades.

    Do you have an idea for classroom management?  Let us know!

    Thanks for reading!

    Eric

    My First Day Activity: Shoe Interview

    Materials:

    Pencils
    White board/markers for directions
    Lined card stock
    Scissors

    Tell students they are going to conduct a "shoe" interview. Explain the process (below). Write questions that they are going to ask their interviewee. I put questions on the board they are to ask. (sample questions: 1. What's your name? 2. How old are you? 3. Do you have a brother or sister? 4. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?)

    1. Everyone takes off their left shoe (even you!)
    2. Everyone puts them in a pile.
    3. Everyone gets a chance to pick a shoe.
    4. Everyone traces their "new" shoe on the card stock paper and cuts it out.
    5. Everyone matches their shoe to its owner and conducts a "shoe" interview. 
    6. Everyone "reports" on their shoe interviewee.

    Makes a great bulletin board with the title: STEPS TO SUCCESS!

    PS: Don't forget the Scholastic book order (Mega bonus points in September!!), Staples Teacher Appreciation Days, and OfficeMax back to school sales!

    If you are like me, so often at the beginning of the year, you find yourself in the middle of putting up butcher paper on bulletin boards, organizing centers, getting libraries together, and arranging desks, that often you kind of put off that first day: what to do. Many of us have first day activities (mine is at the end), class letters for parents, and homework (yikes!) already to go. But, that age-old adage always rings a bell about now: First impressions really do matter.

    Now, I'm not saying that you have to dress with your best Prada on your first day (your professional attire will do just fine!), but making that connection with parents on a personal level will do wonders in creating a warm and welcoming classroom. That parent connection is so vital to home-school communication, spending just a few minutes the first day of school meeting with parents before school, after school, even during school as they are walking to get the little ones to their kindergarten classroom goes a long way in parents and family members understanding that you not only are their child's teacher, but also someone who cares about the success of a young person.

    As a side note, I define 'parent' as any parental figure for that particular student — be it a brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa, they are all the same. Many of the students at our school have one or no biological parents in the home, making understanding each child's family dynamic that much more important and meaningful. This also helps when writing cards during holidays and birthdays, keeping things generic such as "Write a card to someone in your family you'd like to thank," instead of "Write a letter to your parents thanking them." Or when addressing notes home: "To the Family of" seems more inclusive than: "To the Parents of".

    Going back to management, when making that contact with parents on that first day, you get to know them on a more personal level, even calling them by first name. When a child disrupts your class, you have your classroom management system (or if you're looking for a different one, try www.powerteachers.org) that helps provide students with various consequences, a note or call home is most likely one.  Imagine pulling out your cell phone and telling the defiant student, "Should I call Sheila to tell her how you are behaving in class?" That first name/personal relation with the parent makes a big difference in managing students.

    Of course this will not work with all students, nor is it for just defiant students. Maintaining that contact is important for helping parents understand student progress, achievement, and accolades.

    Do you have an idea for classroom management?  Let us know!

    Thanks for reading!

    Eric

    My First Day Activity: Shoe Interview

    Materials:

    Pencils
    White board/markers for directions
    Lined card stock
    Scissors

    Tell students they are going to conduct a "shoe" interview. Explain the process (below). Write questions that they are going to ask their interviewee. I put questions on the board they are to ask. (sample questions: 1. What's your name? 2. How old are you? 3. Do you have a brother or sister? 4. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?)

    1. Everyone takes off their left shoe (even you!)
    2. Everyone puts them in a pile.
    3. Everyone gets a chance to pick a shoe.
    4. Everyone traces their "new" shoe on the card stock paper and cuts it out.
    5. Everyone matches their shoe to its owner and conducts a "shoe" interview. 
    6. Everyone "reports" on their shoe interviewee.

    Makes a great bulletin board with the title: STEPS TO SUCCESS!

    PS: Don't forget the Scholastic book order (Mega bonus points in September!!), Staples Teacher Appreciation Days, and OfficeMax back to school sales!

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