Sunday, July 29, 2012

Back to School.....It's a Balancing Act

Take a good look at the picture below.  Have you ever felt like this was your life?  You wonder how you're going to balance on the two chairs without falling, how long you will have to balance for, and when you're going to step on stable ground again.

The Great Balancing Act

We don't always feel like this.  While there are days, weeks, or even months that your swaying back and forth trying to stay up, there are also many other times that your two feet are standing on stable ground.  Hopefully you spend most of your time firmly on the ground rather than balancing on the two chairs.

During the last week of August, I will be the man in the picture completing the great balancing act!  During this one week, I will be moving to a new school building, starting a new teaching position, moving to a new home, and starting additional graduate classes for my Principal Certification.  However crazy it may get during that week, I know that I will appreciate my life even more when I'm standing straight and tall without wobbling!

Knowing that my life will be a little hectic come the last week in August, I am trying to do everything I can to prepare for back to school NOW!  But, there is a problem!  I'm starting a new position come fall.  I will be moving from a classroom teaching position to an ESL position.  After seven years in the classroom, I have back to school figured out.  I prepare my homework folders, organize my classroom library, make name tags for the desks, create locker signs, set up the birthday chart, and prepare my first week of homework.  But, that all ends!  I don't need any of that for ESL!

So now I sit here and I start to get that panic feeling.  The month of August will be here in two days, and I do not know what to prepare.  So I ask myself, "What is similar between a third grade classroom and an ESL classroom?"

Answer?  Parent communication.

So that's what I have been working on.  Last week, I prepared my Parent Communication Binder.

Inside of my Parent Communication Binder, there is:
  1. Class Roster I use pencil to write student names so I can easily add or subtract names as students move in and out of my classroom.
  2. Information Sheet for each student that every parent fills out.  It includes contact and emergency contact information. In addition, I ask each parent questions that allow me to know more about their child and their expectations of the school year. 
  3. Communication Log for each student. This is where I record conversations between myself and the guardians of the student. It also allows you to easily track which conversations expressed a positive and which expressed a concern.  (Thank you to Meghan B. for suggesting this!)
  4. Divider Tabs which allow me to easily flip to the students records that I need. You can find these at Wal-Mart for about $0.88.  

The best thing about this binder is that it keeps all important information about students in one place.  No more searching here and there for student/parent/guardian contact information. 

Where you keep your binder is up to you.  However, I like to keep mine near the classroom door.  During a fire drill, I grab it and take it with me.  When we go on a field trip, this binder goes with me.  If I have to make a phone call at home after school hours, the binder comes home with me.  

You can find all of the resources listed above including the cover page, binder label, and direction page HERE at my TPT store!  

So tell me.  What do you do to increase parent communication throughout the year?