Before the First Day.

Before I dig in to this post, a quick housekeeping announcement: I’ve decided to no longer maintain two separate blogs. If you are interested in my posts about teaching, there’s a link to the left that will pull all of them. Same with posts about iPads. You can also click on the file folder tab at the top and search the entire blog by keyword. 

Every year before the first day of school, I email parents, providing them with a link to my class website and an assignment to write me a letter about their student. I’ve been asking parents to write me letters about their students for my entire career, and I love reading these letters. Some parents get me their letters before the first day of school, so before the students enter my classroom I already have some context about what makes my students tick. I’m able to ask them questions about their interests, which can thaw the ice better than any mandated activity might.

But I’m always looking for more ways to make the first week of school a positive experience for everyone, so throughout the year I collect articles that I revisit at the end of July. One of those articles was Catlin Tucker’s post about flipping back to school night, and I loved the idea.

I took some photos, B-roll, and made a couple of screencasts, edited them all in iMovie and published the video to YouTube. (If you’re interested, you can watch it here.) Then I emailed the video to parents, along with the letter assignment. I’m hopeful that this initial positive contact with parents will begin an open channel of communication, and that it will provide a less rigid open house night. Our open house night can often turn into mini-parent-teacher conferences. But this year, if the parents who attend open house have watched the video, perhaps the conversations will be more genuine. I’m hopeful open house this year will be more equal exchange between me and parents, instead of me talking nonstop (and fast!) to share the basics of my classes.



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