I have spent quite a bit of time lately thinking about how I can encourage parents to be more involved in their child’s education. Now before I start I realize that there are many ways to be involved, including being active in your child’s education in the evening by taking an interest in what they are learning. Having said that, I would like to get the parents involved in what happens during the day at school. I do realize that many parent work during the day and that this is not always possible for all parents, but I would love to see more parents in my classroom. The children love being able to show off their parents.
In the past I have used parent volunteers to help mainly with different projects that we have been working on. Most of them are art related but a few have been writing projects also. The newest idea that I have been thinking about would be to invite the parents in for Story time a few (or more) times during the year. The parents would bring in a book that they enjoy reading to their child at home and share it with the class. If I had more than one parent interested in coming in I would either split the group up or have them come in on different days. My main goal would be of course to allow the parents to see a small portion of our day, but also to show that kids that literacy is important and that reading can be fun.
Typically in my classrooms, story time is folowed by play time, so I would invite the parents to stay if they are interested and they can watch how their child interacts with the other children as this is often a concern for kindergarten parents.
Do you have any more ideas about how I can encourage more parent involvement in the classroom? I am open to anything and willing to give it a try.
This week’s EC&I 831 class was a very thought provoking class. Our presenter was Stephen Downes and the discussion was about the role of the Educator. Throughout the class, Stephen must have mentioned about twenty different roles that a teacher can play. At the beginning of the discussion he brought up two very interesting comments that I had never thought about before. He stated that the teacher is no longer “the sage on the stage” or the “guide by the side”. Through out my education, I have had instructors or teachers that played both of these roles and I find it interesting looking back at my educational career and thinking about the different roles my instructors have played. I find that when I am in the classroom, there are times when I am “the sage on the stage” and other times when I sit back and am the “guide by the side”. I find that with the little ones, it is important that one bounces back and forth between these two traditional roles often.
As class went on, Stephen delved into some more in-depth roles that a teach/instructor portrays in the classroom. When I look at my classroom, I find that one of the roles that I like to play is the role of the learner. There are many times where I will try a new project or theme with my students and I tell them that I am learning along with them. Often to keep life interesting at work, I will pick projects that I have never done before because this allows me to learn at the same time as the children. While the children are working, I am constantly adapting the project so that it is either easier or more challenging for the students. Another role that I play in the classroom is the role of the moderator. When you work with children between the ages four to six, I find that I am constantly trying to make sure that everyone has a turn, that all the students have a chance to participate, that the child who answers every question allow time for the others to answer also. This role however seems more dominant when we are working in a large group setting. I also agree with Chelsi that the role of the peacekeeper is important also in a classroom. As she describes this role in her blog, it is one that educates while maintaining law and order. This role is obvious in a Kindergarten classroom because there are times when I spend most of the day talking about behaviours and how we need to treat others in the classroom. Another key role that I find a Kindergarten teacher plays is that of caregiver. Often the teacher spends more time with the child during the day than the parent is able to due to many different circumstances and it is the teacher that is there to comfort the child when something bad happens, to celebrate when they do something well, to encourage when they are trying something new and to push them when they think that they can’t do something.
This picture sums up for me what it is like to be a teacher right now in a classroom. When you look at this picture, you can see one man being many different things all at once. The only thing that is missing in this picture for me is the students. If you were able to insert the students in this image, I imagine that you would see this man working individually with some students, helping other students with something that is bothering them emotionally, encouraging yet another group to try something new, talking to the whole group about a new concept, evaluating how the students are interacting, etc. I feel as if I could go on and on about what this one man is doing in the classroom and probably never mention everything that he does on a daily basis. When it is written out like this, it certainly feels like we do a lot during the day, but I don’t know if I really want to change that aspect of my job. I enjoy the fact that I am able to be many things to many people at once. I find that is what makes us unique as teachers because we can do this. I often here from parents that they can not imagine doing my job and they seem to always end that conversation with a heart felt thank you. That is just one of the many reasons that I love my job.
While I was playing around on Twitter tonight, checking on one of the chats that I follow, I came across this interesting blog post. I am not sure who the author is (I tried looking in a number of different places on the blog but couldn’t come up with anything). It is entitled Sharing with Parents. The author describes how they invited the parents in to partake in a sharing session one Friday afternoon. The students had completed six weeks of classes and they seemed very excited to share with their parents what they had learned while in school. I wish that I had the time to do something like this with my parents this year. I have extended the invitation numerous times to have parents come in and volunteer in my classroom and I have had a few takers on it. The number of parent volunteers is lower this year than last year however and I am not sure why. I guess there could be a few reasons, one is that it is a different group of students whose parents may have different commitments that last year’s group and also my school division has implemented a new policy where the parents have to have a Criminal Record Check in order to be in the classroom. To date, I only have six or seven out of forty-two parents who have given me a copy of their Criminal Record Check so this limits the number of parents who are able to volunteer to help me. As for parents in the classroom for special events, I did have a Kindergarten Liturgy for my new students and the parents were able to see a few things that their child has been learning, so I guess I have done some parent involvement activities.
On another note, while I was exploring the website I came across some other interesting post. One in particular was about how this classroom used technology in the classroom. This post describes the many different ways that they students use technology in the classroom. I am a little jealous reading the different things that they do because it appears as if the iPad is used often in the classroom. I would love to be able to provide my students with an opportunity like that (especially because I am sure that many of them already have background knowledge as to how to use it) in my classroom. There is a short video on the site and it shows the students interacting with their parents and if you pay close attention you will notice a number of different pieces of technology used in the classroom. There are children on laptops, using iPads, adults taking pictures, etc.