Meet the Teacher The Vision, The Planning, & The Reality

A Vision for Meet The Teacher / The Work  to Get Ready:

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values, RTI, Shared Writing, readers workshop, TCRWP

Anticipating Meet the Teacher Night is like getting ready for an important moment that we just can’t get back.  We really want to motivate parent engagement! This is the one night, our big chance to have the majority of  parents in one room.   Our work is to get them excited and motivated to be real partners for the school year ahead of us.  So here’s a breakdown of the plans we made:

  • We prepared the classroom structures we have in place (pictures) for readers and writers workshop.
  • We displayed anchor charts and student work that relates to the structure of workshop: lists of the read alouds, graffiti walls, students work, photographs, student writing as mentors, future work, so many visuals that connected to the work that is going on in the classroom.  All of it there so they could see and transfer the all important structure of workshop teaching.   
  • We wanted to make the theory come alive in the real work of their children.  
  • We intended to have parents experiencing the structure first hand through active engagement prompts and hoped that they would embrace the experience.

In short, we wanted to engender real parent/teacher partnerships that would encourage open lines of communication that would be respectful and positive.  We really wanted to hear them – to give them a voice and work their views into the teaching.  We really wanted them to love Jill’s classroom.  To appreciate and honor the work.

The Experience & The Reflection:

Meet the Teacher is a marathon day.  With a lot of sweat and perseverance (literally it’s been unseasonably hot!) the room was set.  It was so inviting and all our plans were realized.  Kids work adorned the room, photographs of children reading were displayed, graffiti walls were set up, materials were organized, and apple magnets with the happy faces of students marked each desk.  There was even an inspirational poem and peppermints to greet each parent – so glad you’re here!

Basicly the parents arrived and sat down at their child’s desk.  They looked excitedly about the room, and were interested in what was prepared.  They were attentive and encouraging, there were many nods of agreement as the presentation progressed.  It seemed as though they were taking it all in – the room came alive once the presentation was over.  Many parents were trying to grab a private moment to ask questions, or discuss their child specifically.   As we do the hard work of reflection here is what we noticed, what we think, and our new thinking to inform the future:

Intention Reflection
  • Getting parents involved
  • Not so much teacher talk
  • True partnerships Opening the lines communication
  • Understanding structure of teaching (not just curriculum)
  • Hopes: Informed about school day; parent voice; to appreciate the work going into the teaching
  • Yes – emails, letters, notes, phone calls
  • No – still a lot of teacher talk (parents wanted privacy)
  • So/So – Dealing with real input & next steps
  • Not sure: asking about reading curriculum, spelling, comprehension passages Q&A
  • Hopes: noticed that it’s different – but now they’re trying to link it to what they’re used to.

What this All Means & Future

Plans:

Next year we plan to send home a request for parent expectations ahead of time.  Our thinking is that if parents have samples they can  look at beforehand this will allow them to prepare questions in advance. This will make them familiar with how the structures in the classroom work.  We think this because of the discussion around the Twitter books.  These books were introduced as homework first, so parents already had a working knowledge of what they were before this evening. This gave parents time to engage with them so they were able to ask more targeted questions.
While it’s important to plan for big events like Meet the Teacher, it is equally as important to acknowledge real input from parents.  It may not be what was planned for but it is what’s necessary for a successful year. It’s all about the relationship.  If the goal is  to open up a dialogue for parent reflection and input, it is important to be flexible and meet them where they are. and do the work to define what the classroom is in the 21st Century.   

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