Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Parent Contact

Recently our principal sent us out an email that encouraged us to email or make phone contact with some of our students parents. I had already done this from time to time, but I needed a little "oh yeah" trigger in me to do it again. So I took about a half hour and sent emails to a dozen or so parents. A lot of times, as teachers, we think, oh boy, one more thing to do. We try to find the time to do it. I know when I do find the time, I always feel good after. I don't write much. Just a couple sentences. I always wonder what the parents think when they see that email sitting there in their inbox. Their child's name as the subject and from a school address. I wonder if there is a shock factor. I wonder if they think, "what have they done now..." Monday I got one of those emails with the subject box that read simply "Ali."

So, even though I know I have a pretty good kid, I still thought, "Oh crap." And then I read the email. It was from one of Ali's 8th grade teachers and her words were just what I needed to start my Monday. It was a short note, only a couple sentences. But what she said in those few sentences made me the proudest mom EVER. To get a note from someone that I don't know well, letting me know as a parent that I am doing something right and so is my daughter is a really, really good feeling.

So every time I hear a fellow teacher sigh when we are asked to give a few minutes of our time and our words, I think I will smile inside. They will never know what an impact in a parent's life those few small words, in a short little paragraph mean to them.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Claudine Hellmuth

My art one classes are going to focus the next week and a half on altered collage/ books. Right now altered collage is booming. My students are always wanting to work in collage but their idea of collage is cutting out a bunch of pictures from magazines and gluing them on to a background. I wanted to find a way to teach them that there is so much more to collage than that. After researching, I found a couple good dvds by Claudine Hellmuth. The thing I like about her is that her style is simple and easy to understand, but the amount of layers and techniques she uses gives the students a great variety and a challenge. She explains herself well and is very detailed in her demos.

Once we finish the video, we will be beginning an altered project. Students are allowed to use the provided canvas or they may bring in an old book or box to create their project.

Side Note

Love how I am sadly addicting my students to Pinterest. They are having a great time and are constantly pinning and repinning new ideas for projects in our art classes. I love that they are finding an interest in our classes outside of the traditional class day! Way to Go!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pinterest Project

We are working on our first project based off of Pinterest. I found this one and it was perfect for Painting and Drawing Class. They were ready to move in to painting and drawing on a unique surface and this project did the trick.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Engaging the Parent

Last Thursday and Friday were parent teacher conferences. If you are a high school teacher you honestly know what that means. The best image I can give you is to think about a ghost town with tumbleweeds blowing across the classroom. It means, no one comes. There are a few parents that stroll in but usually they are here for another reason or they are the ones who have the kids that really aren't a problem and get good grades. I wondered why we as parents just stop coming.

In the elementary, everyone is at the conferences. You park yourself in the little tiny seats outside your child's classroom waiting for your assigned time and you pray that you only hear good things and that the teacher doesn't ask you if there is anything they should be aware of that would be causing an issue in school.

As a mom I have been to my fair share of conferences, every year from Kindergarten through 5th grade. Once my daughter hit middle school, something happened and I stopped going. I don't know why really. I suppose because she had all A's and I knew she wasn't behavior issue so why go and take up the teachers time. I am not sure that is everyone's reason for slowly disappearing from the realm of the parent teacher conference night, but that was mine. I don't want to be that parent that shows up and the teachers think "why is she here?" or "she is only coming to hear how great her kid is" and then part of me thinks, I wonder if they think I don't care? It is kind of a catch 22 as a parent.

So my question is, how do we as educators get our parents more involved in what their children are doing without the parent/ teacher conferences? Our school offers short awareness nights on topics such as Internet or online grading. The most recent is one on prescription drug awareness. I know as a teacher I send home emails to parents on their kids, just letting them know I enjoy having them in class, or something I would like them to work on more. Many teachers have websites and blogs such as this one, that talk about the daily comings and goings in their rooms. We even have online grading and parents have access to their students assignments and grades on a daily basis. By doing that, I wonder if we give them all the info they need so they don't feel like they have to contact us. I think about myself. What would or will get me into the school as the parent of a high school student next year. I guess I will find out.

If you have any ideas, shout them out here!