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Special Education: The Pathway to a Better Future

To Hire or Not to Hire?

As a school administrator, each year I am faced with a daunting question: Who will I hire to replace a workforce that constantly shifts as teachers retire, resign, or change schools? I often spend many hours sifting through mountains of resumes, calling schools for references, and analyzing the teaching experience of the candidates. As once previously stated by my local district superintendent, hiring well is the most important thing that a school administrator can do. So what can you do to make your way to the top of the interview short list?

Special Education: A Proven Edge

In interviews that I conduct, I often ask candidates what talents or special skills do they have that set them apart from other candidates. Without nurturing any bias after experiencing a childhood with a mother who was a special education teacher, I can honestly say that special education experience is one item that I pay close attention to because of it’s positive impact on the development of crucial skills that teachers need. If you’re looking for a way to provide yourself an edge against other candidates, special education experience is the answer. Here’s four reasons why.

Reason #1: Classroom Management

One of the most common areas that teachers can struggle with is classroom management. This is not just a problem for new teachers because an experienced classroom teacher may have several years experiencing classes with predominantly good behavior and then they are dealt a class that may challenge their classroom management skills. Many special education students have extreme behaviors that force special education teachers to learn these skills quickly and employ them effectively. Special education teachers hone their classroom management skills in a way that takes regular education teachers many years to duplicate. For this reason, special education teachers often have more behavior management techniques in their bag of tricks for dealing with difficult behaviors.

Reason #2: Differentiation

No one knows that students learn differently as well as special education teachers. They often end up teaching students who don’t fit the mold of “traditional education.” Special education teachers often have to come up with unique ways to teach and assess their students based on the needs of the child. This impacts how they run their classroom. In contrast to regular education classrooms, special education classrooms must be taught in small groups so that they can address the diversity of their learners. Instead of a “one size fits all” mentality, special education teachers develop their ability to customize education to each individual student.

Reason #3: Data

Often regular education teachers balk when I ask them to justify a teaching decision based on data. They ask, “You mean we need to track everything?” Much to some educators’ dismay, formative data collection and usage are integral parts to being an effective educator. Some teachers are inexperienced with analyzing data and using it in their classrooms, but not special education teachers who are often required to provide quarterly progress monitoring data to parents about whether their student is achieving their education goals or not. It is this level of experience with data that makes special education teachers a cut above the rest.

Reason #4: Understanding the Special Education Process

What is an IEP? How can a child that we suspect has a disability qualify for additional support? What does a special education referral process entail? Knowing the answers to these questions can put a teacher at a significant advantage and alleviate job stress. Special education teachers have the know-how about what it takes for students to qualify for special education services as well as experience with assessing and providing interventions to struggling students to determine eligibility.

Special Education: A Distinct Advantage

Whether you’re a college student who has committed to studying education for their undergraduate degree or whether you are someone who is already in the education field that is looking to further your own career path choices, special education has the ability to make you a more sought after candidate and increase the likelihood of landing a job in education that you’ve always wanted. It provides you an opportunity to develop the skills that are most needed in education today, while making you an asset to your team and to your local education agency.

Disability Awareness and Bullying prevention

There’s a reason education professionals strive for as much inclusion as possible for kids with disabilities. Being in a diverse environment is an educational experience for kids of all ages. It lets them learn about people who are different from them and find ways to get along.

At the same time, an inclusive environment will always come with some hurdles. As sad as it is, we tend to see bullying issues any time there’s a large group of kids. It happens even more when we bring kids with disabilities into the mix, though.

How do you face these issues head-on? It’s important to have a frank discussion with all kids about bullying prevention. It might be a challenging subject, but these tips will help.

How to Talk to Kids with Disabilities About Bullying Prevention

As a special education professional, you may be dealing with bullying prevention on a regular basis. Here are some tips to keep in mind while you discuss bullying with your students.

Explain Both Sides of the Coin

Many people assume that kids with disabilities are the ones who get bullied and that neurotypical kids are the bullies. While this does tend to be the most common scenario, it’s not always the case.

While you want to talk to your students about what to do if they’re getting bullied, don’t neglect to talk about why bullying is wrong. It’s just as important to make sure they know not to be bullies as it is to help protect them from becoming victims.

Explain That It Isn’t Their Fault if They Get Bullied

One of the most common problems facing kids who are bullied is the assumption that they’ve brought it on themselves. Too many adults say things like, “If you didn’t act so weird, they wouldn’t bully you.”

The #1 cause of bullying is bullies, plain and simple. You don’t want kids to think that if they want to be themselves, it gives others the permission to abuse them.

Make sure your students know that if they get bullied, it isn’t their fault and they don’t need to change who they are.

Talk About What Constitutes Bullying

Another common problem with bullying is that kids don’t actually know that they’re bullying someone. They might think they’re picking on a friend in a playful way but they’ve crossed the line into bullying.

Make it clear that it isn’t okay to pick on other kids, regardless of what the intentions are. While bullying is defined by a pattern of behavior, it’s a slippery slope from the occasional mean-spirited “prank.”

It’s also important to explain that bullying doesn’t need to be a physical action. Words alone can be a form of bullying that is more traumatic to kids than physical abuse.

Tell Them What to Do if They See or Experience Bullying

When your students have a clear understanding of what bullying is, it’s important to give them actionable instructions, too. Tell them what to do if they see bullying or experience it themselves.

Make sure kids know that it’s important to report bullying if they see it happening to someone else. If they don’t, they’re hurting the victim by allowing the abuse to continue.

Don’t Wait Until Something Happens

Too many parents and education professionals put off “the bullying talk” too long. They tend to think they have more time before their kids have to worry about it.

If you wait until something happens, you’ll guarantee that your students will have at least one situation when they don’t know what to do. The key is to educate kids about bullying before they can form bad habits or get into a situation when they may react in violence.

How to Talk to Neurotypical Kids About Disability Awareness and Bullying Prevention

In some schools, you’ll only spend time with kids with disabilities. In other cases, though, schools may recognize that you’re a resource for bullying prevention with neurotypical kids as well.

If you’re in a position to discuss bullying with neurotypical kids, here are some tips to help.

Educate Them About Kids with Disabilities

One of the largest reasons neurotypical kids bully kids with disabilities is a lack of understanding. They don’t recognize what their disability is or that it may be the reason they seem “weird.”

Education alone will go a long way toward creating a cooperative and safe environment. Talk to neurotypical students about various disabilities their peers might have, from autism spectrum disorders and Down syndrome to physical impairments.

Define Bullying

As with your students with disabilities, many neurotypical kids who are bullies don’t realize they’re bullying. To them, it might seem like good fun while it creates fear and anxiety for the victim.

Discuss examples of bullying with the kids and answer any questions they have about it. Explain to them that if they’re questioning whether something is okay, it’s probably not okay.

Talk About the Impacts Bullying Can Have

This is a touchy subject. Some parents and educators think suicide is too heavy of a subject for their students.

The reality is that it’s something they deal with at an early age. The youngest documented suicide victim is a 6-year-old girl. Kids as young as 8 and 9 have committed suicide that we know to be the direct result of bullying.

As unpleasant as it is, kids need to understand the real risks of bullying. You don’t need to get graphic, but you need to explain to them that it can have serious consequences.

In addition to suicide, it’s important to explain the other potential effects of bullying. Discuss the results of low self-esteem, higher risks for drug use, poor academic performance, and more.

Explain What to Do if They See or Experience Bullying

As with your special education students, you need to give neurotypical kids actionable instructions. Explaining what bullying is and why it’s bad won’t help much if they don’t know what to do if they see it happening.

Tackling Bullying Prevention Before It’s a Problem

Total bullying prevention isn’t practical. Still, there are plenty of ways you can cut down on bullying in your school and the tips above can help.

For more advice that will help you with your special education career, check out our online resources.

3 Things Parents Need to Know About Personalized Learning

Personalized Learning: A Message to Parents

When you first hear the term Personalized Learning, it can seem like a no-brainer to parents. What parent wouldn’t want their child to have their education tailored to their strengths, weaknesses, and personal interests. It sounds like a dream come true. However, parents need to understand that there are a couple of things about Personalized Learning that are important to address.

1. Personalization Can’t Occur Without Technology
Personalized Learning and Blended Learning are not synonymous, however Personalized Learning cannot occur without Blended Learning. Blended Learning occurs when a student learns partially online, within a brick and mortar building, and along an individualized learning pathway (www.blendedlearning.org). This cannot take place without the use of technology. Technology is what gives educators the ability to personalize learning for each child and provide the real-time data that is required to truly know what each child knows. Some parents have concerns about technology use and their children. Parents need to know that students who are learning in a personalized learning environment will need to use technology.

2. Your Child Needs to Learn to Work Independently
In the old days, a teacher was much like an orchestra conductor. The students all played the same piece of music and the teacher orchestrated the classroom in a smooth manner so that there was harmony. Except there was one problem, not every child could play the song in the right way and at the right speed. Personalized Learning looks to flip this instructional style so that students are moving at their own pace and learning only what they need to. This can mean that some students may end up working by themselves for a period of time. Parents need to be okay with this. Personalized Learning is not all about independent study, but it is about individualizing the instruction that each child is getting. Within Personalized Learning, students may have opportunities to work in groups, however the likelihood that students participate in activities as an entire class seems more and more less likely. Because students may be working independently for longer periods of time than in the past, students need to develop additional skills such as project management skills, the ability to plan and set personal and academic goals, and the ability to stay on task. All of these skills will be beneficial for students to develop as they prepare to enter the workforce.

3. Teachers Will Make Mistakes
Personalized Learning is a relatively a new teaching pedagogy. Many teachers are still learning about it and undergoing professional development to help them implement it into their classrooms. Obviously, mistakes are bound to happen during the implementation of Personalized Learning until a teacher becomes confident and experienced enough so that these “hiccups” do not happen. Parents need to have realistic expectations while at the same time providing patience to teachers as they try to determine how to best personalize the learning for their students. Parents should be encouraged to learn alongside teachers and be actively involved in providing feedback to teachers on the type of learning environment that they want for their child. Parents should also be encouraged to be flexible as the school environment changes from the one that they experienced as a child.

Personalization Has Individual Student Needs at Heart

As more and more schools shift to an environment that focuses on Personalized Learning, mistakes will be made, questions will be asked, and new ideas will be tried. It will be messy. It will me different. But the one thing the teachers and parents can agree on, is that both stakeholders are trying to do their best to help provide the personalized learning environment that students deserve. If teachers and parents work together, then no matter how many mistakes are made, student needs will remain at the heart of the individualized education that they are trying to receive.

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Special Education: Putting You on the Right Path

Special Education – The Right Choice

When pursuing a teaching degree, many college students are faced with the decision to major in elementary education, secondary education with a curricular emphasis, or work with special education students. Making this decision is no easy task, however as a school administrator, let me make a case for why more teachers could benefit from a special education background.

Special Education – A Mother’s Influence

Before I begin telling you about why a special education background could be crucial to a budding career in education, let me tell you about my own special education background. My mother was a special educator for many years in our local school district. While growing up, my mother provided me with countless opportunities to try to understand and work with this often misunderstood sub-group of students within our school systems. While pursuing a teaching degree, I had the opportunity to work in a variety of special education positions that gave me a wealth of knowledge about special education programs, its students, and strategies for working with special education students. As a school administrator, this personal experience has been invaluable to me as I run a school whose special education population accounts for almost 20% of our total student enrollment.

Special Education Develops Patience

The day that anyone decides to go into the education field is the day that they declare to the universe their need for an extra helping of patience. Have you ever had someone continuously make an annoying noise that you can hear? Have you ever had a young child swear at you? Have you ever taught something over and over, yet it remains unlearned by the pupil? These are all situations that occur generally in education, but in special education classrooms, they occur with much greater frequency. When I interview potential teaching candidates, I ask them which character trait is most important for a teacher to possess and more often than not, they respond in the same way — patience. Special education refines your patience to the point that you are able to achieve a zen-like calm regardless of any environmental disturbances.

Special Education Makes You Data Driven

Special education teachers write individualized education plans for their students that detail how a special education student is currently able to perform on specific academic tasks, a plan to improve their academic performance that details specific goals, and lists specific accommodations that the student needs to successfully perform in the classroom. This level of specificity regarding the needs of one student is unparalleled in education, yet all of our students should receive this same degree of analysis. Special education teaches you to plan for your students with this level of specificity that ultimately teaches you how to be organized and data driven in the classroom.

Special Education Teaches Sympathy

Special education is full of opportunities to sympathize with students who are struggling and with parents that are at their wits end. Just like no-one likes a doctor with poor bed-side manner, no-one likes a teacher who becomes jaded to the problems their students experience. Special education teaches educators to be compassionate and caring individuals. As a school administrator, I extremely value my employees that can provide this personal, sympathetic touch that is so sorely needed in education.

Special Education Makes You a Behavior Expert

Behavior management is a crucial skill that all educators must develop and become successful at, otherwise it could spell disaster in the classroom. Special education students can exhibit a wide-variety of behaviors depending on the disabilities they have. This broad exposure to varying behaviors will help educators focus in on the function of the behavior and how best to handle it within the classroom.

Conclusion: Special Education Provides the Right Foundation

Although special education teachers are often cited for having high turnover rates in the education field, I argue that special education is a great place for budding educators to start their careers. It affords people the opportunity to hone and develop so many skills that are essential to be an effective educator. As an administrator I have solved problems, avoided conflict, and helped students learn all because of my special education knowledge. If you’re on the road to a career in education, special education will put you on the right path.

Making the Most of Tech in the Classroom

Choices, Choices, Choices

Make no mistake about it, technology can be an effective tool to increase student learning. More and more classrooms are being outfitted with devices to help gather data for the teacher and to allow students to learn in ways that they never thought possible. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Programs are becoming more commonplace and earbuds are becoming an essential back-to-school item. However, all schools are faced with the same daunting task of determining which devices to purchase. This is problematic as more and more new devices are released each year and technology as a whole continues to move forward at a rapid pace. Regardless of the device that is used, here are some ways to get the most out of the technology in your classroom.

Meet My Friend SAM R.

The most important thing that you can remember about technology is that it is just a tool. Technology ineffectively utilized will not change anything. What you do with the technology is more important than the actual technological device. No one understands this more than Dr. Ruben Puentedura. Dr. Puentedura created the SAMR model which provides guidance for educators on classroom technology integration. If tech is used to substitute a task, then don’t expect leaps and bounds in student learning and success. However, if tech is used to modify a task or redefine a task so that students can create something new, then educators might be starting to understand how to use technology in a positive way. When the harnessed in the right way, technology can help teachers be more effective than they ever thought possible.

Variety is the Spice of Life

Because how you use a device is more important than which device you use. Educators should invest in a variety of different devices that can do different things. Chrome books and iPads are an example of two very different devices. Allowing students the opportunity to create an iMovie project about a social studies topic might be a great way to allow them to demonstrate their understanding while using technology to create something new. Conversely, having students collaborate on a Google doc about a persuasive essay might be a great use of tech in the classroom. Putting all of your eggs in one basket could be sheer folly, especially if students are more talented with one particular device or program over another. Bottom line: make sure that you provide tech options for your students and don’t limit their choices to devices that the classroom teacher is only familiar with.

Rotate, Rotate, Rotate

The last way to get the most tech out of your tech in the classroom is to realize that you do not need an entire classroom set of devices. Technology is great when it is purposeful, allows for student choice, and is used in small doses. Teachers can utilize a smaller number of devices through a station rotation format. A station rotation consists of a teacher running several small groups within the classroom that are all working on different activities. One of the groups could be utilizing a tech device for the activity. Conducting a station rotation will allow a classroom teacher to understand that they do not need a 1:1 device initiative for their school. Starting with fewer devices in a station rotation format will also help teachers be purposeful in the technological activities that they have assigned their students as well.

Tech is Just a Tool

Technology can do some pretty amazing things. It can allow for students to travel the world on virtual field trips, connect to other classrooms that are halfway around the world, and allow students the ability to collaborate on projects anywhere and at anytime. However, technology should not be used just because it’s there. Educators have a responsibility to make their tech use count because tech is just a tool and it will never replace an effective educator who uses it with purpose.

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How Blended is My Classroom?

What is Blended Learning?

Blended Learning is a buzzword in education nowadays as technology has steadily crept more and more into every facet or our lives — including our schools. Blended Learning occurs when a student learns partially online, within a brick and mortar building, and along an individualized learning pathway (www.blendedlearning.org). It’s no surprise that the desire for personalized and convenient learning pathways has lead the education sector to embrace a new way of providing instruction to match the needs of its learners.

Blended Learning Classrooms — The New Norm

Blended Learning has long been around in higher education and judging by the number of online degrees that have been recently awarded across the United States — it’s safe to say that it’s here to stay. However, educators in elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools, are left questioning, “How Blended is My Classroom?” Educators in these areas must determine if changes are occurring in their classrooms to meet the needs of today’s learners. Determining how successfully they have “blended” their learning environment and where they can make improvements is crucial to any learning institution’s success.

How “Blended” Am I?

If you’re looking for a way to determine areas for improvement to your blended classroom initiative, look no further. Take a moment to study the vertical alignment of an educator’s journey on the road to a blended learning classroom. Then, your next bet is to make some measurable goals to get you headed on your way.

Traditional Instruction or Non-Blended Learning Instruction

⬥ Teachers infrequently allow students to learn faster or slower than the teacher. All students get the same homework.
⬥ Teachers infrequently plan differentiated activities for students that address personal interests, learning styles, or abilities.
⬥ Teachers tell students where to work in the classroom and infrequently provide access to online resources so students can learn outside the classroom.
⬥ Teachers teach before they assess students and find out what they know or let students explore concepts on their own.

Beginning to Blend Instruction

⬥ Teachers occasionally opt students out of work based on assessment data and they conduct stations or centers.
⬥ Teachers administer surveys to gain information and plan activities that address different learning modalities. Teachers allow students to occasionally choose how to demonstrate their understanding.
⬥ Teachers allow students to work in different places within the classroom and they post assignments online occasionally.
⬥ Teachers assess students, collect data, and teach mini-lessons to students occasionally.

Moderately Blending Instruction

⬥ Teachers do not provide whole-class instruction or non-differentiated homework. Students frequently participate in centers where they move about the classroom by choice.
⬥ Teachers prepare a variety of differentiated tasks based on student information. Students complete curriculum and personal interest projects with the help of rubrics and choice boards.
⬥ Teachers occasionally use a learning management system (LMS) to allow students to access curriculum content anywhere in the classroom or even outside of school.
⬥ Teachers assess students, collect data, and teach mini-lessons to students frequently. Students frequently monitor their own learning.

Heavily Blending Instruction

⬥ Students frequently work with differentiated playlists and are able to choose which tasks they work on and how long they spend on each task.
⬥ Students frequently conference with a teacher to determine which activities will best help them learn and how they will demonstrate their understanding.
⬥ Students frequently use a LMS to access the curriculum and occasionally complete work in a non-homeroom teacher’s classroom.
⬥ Students make learning goals and are systematically monitoring which learning objectives they have mastered.

Fully-Blended Classroom

⬥ Students explore concepts before any teacher instruction (mini-lessons) in grade-level and non-grade-level content areas.
⬥ Students can choose independently how to learn (by themselves, with a peer, or from the teacher) and demonstrate their understanding based on their personal interests, learning styles, or abilities.
⬥ Students frequently work in any grade-level classroom and can access all coursework online.
⬥ Students frequently make learning goals, collect data regarding the learning objectives that they have mastered, and conference with the teacher about their progress.

Conclusion: Blended Learning Takes Patience

After you you are sufficiently overwhelmed from self-assessing how “blended” you really are, just remember that elephants must be eaten one bite at a time and the same could be said for Blended Learning classrooms. No matter where you’re at with your Blended Learning knowledge or implemented strategies, know that it can take upwards of 2-3 years to fully transform your classroom to provide the individualized instruction that learners are craving — and that’s if your community is ready for it! The best advice I can give you is think big, start small, and go slow.

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Helping Teachers Recharge

Energy Level: Low or High?

As a school administrator, I conduct interviews each year to fill holes in the ever-evolving faculty at our school. Each time I meet a teacher candidate, I ask them many difficult questions about teaching pedagogy, classroom management, and lesson planning, however what I am really looking for is passion and energy. Have you ever met a teacher that absolutely loves teaching and wants to make a difference in the world? Their energy is contagious! A school administrator is always hopeful that this energy will rub off on any teachers who may forgotten why they became teachers in the first place. According to Shawn Achor‘s book “The Happiness Advantage,” your attitude can have a huge impact on how successful you will be in your given profession. Hiring passionate teachers can give your faculty a shot in the arm, but how can we help teachers who may be succumbing to the stress of the job?

Mindfullness

As students deal with an increasingly stressful environments at home and school, programs like mindful schools have found their way into many American schools. According to www.mindfulschools.org, students are bombarded with toxic stress in today’s schools, but what about teachers? I would argue that with the demands that are placed on teachers in today’s classrooms that they need this type of program as much as the students do. Teachers will be unable to maintain a healthy level of passion for teaching if they do not employ strategies to deal with the stress that comes with the job. Shawn Achor recommends at least 5 minutes of daily meditation to raise levels of happiness, lower your stress, and even improve your immune system function.

Faculty Room Safe Haven

The faculty room is an important place in every school. This is where teachers come to diffuse some of the tense situations that they have been dealing with during the day. Our school’s faculty room was clean and functional, however some adjectives that new teachers had used to describe it have been subpar to say the least; “dark,” “a cabin,” “a dungeon,” and “Napoleon Dynamite’s basement.” No matter how you cut it, we understood that we needed to make a change. As we updated furniture, color, and other design aspects, we contemplated the question, “What kind of faculty room will reinvigorate our staff to go back outside and do their jobs with passion?” Our faculty decided to get rid of some furniture to simplify and organize the room. Next, they put up inspirational messages for teachers to view about teaching. Shawn Achor calls this “infusing positivity into your surroundings.” Now we hope our faculty room will be described as “fresh,” “positive,” and “fun.”

Random Acts of Kindness

My dad used to tell me as a kid that if I appeared unhappy, that it was because I was to busy thinking about myself. His advice has stuck with me to this day. Whenever I feel stressed, overwhelmed, and generally unhappy, my first go-to activity is to complete some random act of kindness. It can be giving a friend or family member a kind note, paying for someone’s groceries, or even providing people you work with an unexpected treat. This same strategy can be implemented in school settings with teachers and if you can create a culture where teachers perform random acts of kindness with each other, then your school will definitely be on their way to creating an environment that help your staff recharge.

Maintaining the Advantage

Ensuring that teachers deal with stress effectively while working in a positive environment, will help teachers maintain the competitive advantage that happy workers enjoy. Stress will never go away, so it is imperative that teachers understand effective strategies to mitigate the negative effects of stress in their lives. If teachers can develop habits to utilize strategies like these, then their battery will be recharged, their smiles will always be genuine, and their passion for teaching students will always be there.

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Parent Communication

Many times, teachers want parents to be involved and want to communicate with them.  But then get stuck.  What do needs to be said?  When do is there time to reach out to parents?

Understanding and Acting on The Importance of Parent Communication

We always hear how important parent communication is, and it is true.  Most parents want to be involved in their child’s education.  They want to know what is happening in the classroom, how their child is progressing in the curriculum and with the standards, how their child is getting along with others in the class, and what they can do at home to help them. 

Setting The Tone

Contacting parents before school starts or just as school is starting sets the tone for positive communication and establishes the importance of communication.  Relationships are built through communication.  

When the initial communication between teachers and parents is positive, parents tend to be supportive and have a positive outlook.  Later during the year, if there is a problem with a student’s behavior or an academic concern, parents who had an initial positive experience are more likely to continue to be supportive. 

It may seem daunting if you have 25 families to reach out to, but this initial contact may be brief.  It may be a phone call, an email, or even a postcard in the mail to introduce yourself to the new families. Students also benefit from this early communication as it sends a message the teacher is excited to have them in their class.

Benefits to Parents

There are benefits to parents who have frequent feedback and communication from the classroom teacher.  Parents gain a better understanding of the school curriculum and communicate better with their children.  When there is a partnership between parents and the school, parents feel they are valuable to their children’s education.  In turn, this can set higher expectations for their child.

Benefits to Teachers

Teachers gain more insight about their students when communicating with families.  Parents know their child best and can share vital information.  This allows the teacher to meet the student’s needs academically, socially, and emotionally in the classroom.

Benefits to the Students

Studies show there are many benefits to students when there is communication between parents and teachers.  Some of the benefits include increased motivation for learning, regular attendance, improved behavior, and an overall positive attitude towards school and learning.

So what now?

  • Teachers have to find ways to make communication with parents effective. Find out what types of communication families prefer.  Do they prefer paper, phone calls, or electronic communication? 
  • Inform parents of how you want them to communicate: phone, email, or notes. Let them know times of availability for calls or to return emails
  • Make sure to communicate everything, not just the “bad”. A quick phone call to parents when their child did something fantastic, had a gain in learning, or met an IEP goal is a phone call that will be well received by parents.

Teachers can become so overwhelmed with the amount of work to be done day in and day out. Scheduling communication may be helpful.  Set your calendar with which families are due to hear from you.  Keep in mind how each family prefers to communicate. Remembering the benefits to all involved should help keep communication as a priority.