This week we discussed Back to School Night, debating what parents want to hear, what we want to say, and what our administrators expect us to say.
11:29:16mariak : hello everyone.
11:29:19mariak : just setting up
11:29:19Cathy E : howdy
11:29:29mariak : it's chilly up here
11:30:12Cathy E : just nasty here
11:30:16Lisa Parisi : Amanda!
11:30:24Cathy E : been blowin a nor'easter all weekend
11:30:28marragem : Hi everyone!
11:30:40Sheila : Morning all!
11:30:54Sheila : What time zone are you in now Amanda?
11:31:13Sheila : Should be doing ustream shortly
11:32:10marragem : Only 12 hours difference at the moment
11:33:26marragem : no conversion...i don't have to think. You are
all exactly the opposite to me :)
11:34:51marragem : oooh!
11:35:29marragem : saw Little Miss badges at the markets
yesterday. There was one for Mother of the Groom
11:35:35PeggyG : Hi everyone-had problems logging in! Great to see
11:35:46Lisa Parisi : Hi Peggy!
11:35:49Sheila : Hi PeggyG
11:35:55marragem : can't believe it's only 2 weeks away, Maria
11:35:58PeggyG : Sorry I missed you last week but I listened to
the recording :-)
11:36:01marragem : Hi Peggy
11:36:21PeggyG : Hi Amanda! Love having you here!!!!
11:36:45marragem : Thanks, Peggy. An easier timezone at the
11:37:09Sheila : Hi cybrarianliz!
11:37:18Sheila : Love the name!
11:37:26cybrarianliz : Hey and TYVM
11:37:42cybrarianliz : I am here cuz I saw Lisa tweet!
11:37:56PeggyG : do you have parent conferences before back to
11:38:11marragem : We have a Parent Teacher Night some time in the
fisrt 2 weeks of school. Have an Open Day in May for prospective parents -
normally of Prep students.
11:38:34PeggyG : family nights---feed them :-)
11:39:00cybrarianliz : at our middle school we have "open
house" during the first two weeks of school no official parent conference
11:39:38cybrarianliz : and Peggy I agree
11:39:43cybrarianliz : feed them and they will come :)
11:39:44marragem : that's a good idea, Sheila
11:39:50PeggyG : we always did a BBQ and found that dads will come
to that--we keep the entire evening informal--no scheduled presentations and we
often got former students back to see their teachers too
11:40:15marragem : We have a welcome back BBQ but no Open House
11:40:39PeggyG : our BBQ was both welcome back and Meet the
Teacher Night/Open House
11:41:47marragem : Our kids have a Meet the Teacher in the last
week of the school year. They already know who their teacher will be before the
go on summer break
11:42:55Lisa Parisi : Hello Jen!
11:43:00PeggyG : that's great Amanda! You must not have a
transient population. We always had tons of changes over the summer so waited
to announce teachers until right before school started
11:43:20Cathy E : @Peggy who pays for the BBQ?
11:43:26cybrarianliz : so do you think its better to have a
"schedule" for back to school night or to just let them flow around?
11:43:47Sheila : Good question!
11:43:50mariak : Would anyone like to join the skype call to add
another voice to the Conversation...would love to hear other voices.
11:44:41mariak : BTW - I do hear "other voices" - just
now I'm inviting them to be broadcasted!! :p
11:44:42marragem : I guess not Peggy. Always been this way - at
least in Queensland. We have a few new ones arrive in January but not enough to
change the practice
11:44:57PeggyG : we found it better to let them flow around :-)
with multiple children it was always so complex to try to work out a schedule
for everyone. There are many ways to share info about your classroom/plans
without making a presentation
11:45:40marragem : I'd love to Maria but I'll wake everyone here.
Only a little townhouse. I would not be popular!
11:45:55PeggyG : we did many of them as scheduled events but got
much more positive feedback about the informal setup
11:46:16Cathy E : That is great, Lisa, our attendance is not that
11:46:52PeggyG : special area teachers definitely get more
"traffic" with an informal night
11:47:29marragem : gee - our specialist teachers never meet with
11:47:50PeggyG : how sad Amanda!
11:48:19jenorr : Our specialists teachers are in the hallways
throughout Back to School Night available to parents. Our special ed and ESOL
teachers go into the classrooms where they work to meet and talk to parents.
11:48:56marragem : it is, Peggy. Unless a parent requests a
meeting, they are not part of our Parent Info nights of conference nights
11:49:19PeggyG : those first impressions are soooo important!!
11:49:41Lisa Parisi : Yes they are Peggy
11:49:46jenorr : Lisa, I think that issue, the talking all about
the test, is so common these days, sadly.
11:50:32PeggyG : @jenorr do your specialists like that
arrangement? seems like it devalues their role as a teacher
11:51:47jenorr : @PeggyG I don't know. In 14 years there I've
never heard a complaint, but it's an interesting question. I think some are
relieved to not have to make their room "parent-ready" in the second
week of school and others may be annoyed to have to come and stand in the hall.
Our librarian opens the library up for the evening and is there to talk to
parents. Many do stop by there.
11:53:07cybrarianliz : Sorry to have to go so soon..thanks for the
idea-sharing. My chores and minions are calling me.
11:53:10PeggyG : we always had to work hard to get parents to
understand that specialists are teachers with important things to teach and not
just people who provide preps for classroom teachers. Our specialists were in
their rooms greeting/meeting parents just like classroom teachers
11:53:18Lisa Parisi : Thanks for coming, Liz
11:53:27PeggyG : bye Liz-have a great day
11:54:04jenorr : @PeggyG Did a lot of parents go to their rooms?
11:54:13marragem : One day I'll get to it!
11:54:39PeggyG : yes the kids love to take their parents there :-)
with an informal plan and not scheduled times it worked really well
11:55:01Sheila : Hi Minhaaj!
11:55:14Sheila : :)
11:55:38jenorr : @PeggyG That's wonderful. I'll have to share that
idea with our administration. I know our students adore going to PE, music, art
and such and their parents would enjoy seeing those things as well. Do your
students attend Back to School Night? (Ours typically don't.)
11:55:40minhaaj : Hey Sheila!!
11:55:50PeggyG : the challenge is to get parents and kids to leave
:-) I always got on the intercom as the principal and announced that it was
time to go and thanked them for coming
11:55:50minhaaj : Its been a long time, since i was here last
11:55:57mariak : Hi Minhaaj!
11:56:02minhaaj : Hey Hey Maria!!
11:56:09mariak : @minhaaj - it's been so long...
11:56:10marragem : I'm teaching the littlies next year! Yikes!!!!
11:56:24minhaaj : Yea feels like eternity. Man i missed that place
11:56:26PeggyG : yes our back to school night was for the whole
family and all the kids come including those who moved on to Middle School/High
11:57:22PeggyG : having a BBQ made it easy for them to come
because they didn't have to prepare dinner that night
11:57:46minhaaj : Hey Peggy, Lisa :)
11:57:53jenorr : It's great to hear about how other schools have
done/do Back to School Night. There are so many fabulous ideas.
11:57:59PeggyG : Hi Minhaaj! long time no see! Welcome back!
11:58:09minhaaj : thanks thanks. feels good to be back.
11:58:29PeggyG : what time is it where you are Minhaaj?
11:58:36minhaaj : I am in Sweden atm
11:58:36jenorr : How early in the year is Back to School Night for
others? Ours is the second week of school and there isn't much to show yet.
11:58:42minhaaj : 6 pm
11:58:43PeggyG : it's almost 9:00am in Phoenix AZ
11:58:58mariak : @jenorr - do you have a night for parents - I
know you have many parents who speak other languages
11:59:00Lisa Parisi : Hi Joes
11:59:03Lisa Parisi : Jose
11:59:03PeggyG : that's a great time for you Minhaaj :-)
11:59:08Lisa Parisi : Just stopping by?
11:59:11PeggyG : Hi Jose!!!
11:59:20Jose Rodriguez : hi.. just checking in .. we have a
program over at Puentes..
11:59:21mariak : Jose ? Are you lost.
11:59:25minhaaj : hehe yea i have been hopping around a lot of
11:59:26Jose Rodriguez : funny,..
11:59:33Jose Rodriguez : good luck.
11:59:42minhaaj : i have been here some real crazy times.
12:00:29PeggyG : we always had Grandperson's Day in November right
before Thanksgiving. Great day to have both parents and grandparents come to
school to see what the kids are learning/doing
12:00:30Sheila : I bought
book about his travels!
12:00:43minhaaj : hehe did you!! thanks for your 8 dollars lol
12:00:59jenorr : @MariaK We have Spanish, Korean, and Vietnamese translators
at our Back to School Night and lots of parents bring their kids (even though
it is discouraged) to help them understand what is being said.
12:01:30PeggyG : great idea @jenorr!! kids are often the best
12:02:13jenorr : I love watching the kids interact with their
parents too. It gives me so much insight into their lives.
12:02:24Lisa Parisi : Yes, Jen.
12:02:35PeggyG : love it Maria!! we had those days too--Muffins
for Mom and Donuts for Dad :-) Usually done in some classrooms and not whole school
12:03:06marragem : We have Tissues and Tim Tams Day One
12:03:16Lisa Parisi : Why tissues?
12:03:26PeggyG : so true @jenorr!! You can learn so much about the
kids and the family dynamics when they are there together--in a very short
amount of time
12:03:34marragem : all the Mums crying
12:03:37Lisa Parisi : LOL
12:03:38PeggyG : love it Amanda!!!!
12:06:42minhaaj : I hope you are better with to-do list than i am
12:06:43PeggyG : if you use the technology as you present in many
varied ways it covers the message and models the tools
12:06:50Lisa Parisi : Yes, Peggy
12:07:12Lisa Parisi : Minhaaj, one of my favorite things to do is
cross items off my to-do list.
12:07:31PeggyG : when Meg Wilson gave her presentation requesting
funding for iPads for special ed to her governing board she used the iPad to
demonstrate and they were so impressed they approved it immediately!
12:07:37minhaaj : hehe i am envious. i love to pile em up and then
work 18 hours in a row to get them done.
12:07:43Lisa Parisi : LOL
12:09:26PeggyG : great point Lisa!! one computer can be a
challenge in a family with lots of kids and homework expectations that require
12:10:35PeggyG : providing alternatives for those who don't have
internet access is really important
12:10:44PeggyG : exactly Lisa!!! great idea!
12:11:02Cathy E : I have many students who do not have computer
access at home
12:11:51PeggyG : that would be a great future topic--alternatives
for kids who don't have computers or internet connection at home
12:12:53PeggyG : Liz Kolb's new book is out this week--Cell Phones
in the Classroom :-)
12:12:59Cathy E : Exactly Maria, there are a lot of parents who
don't read the paper notes either.
12:13:18Sheila : Welcome to Conversations!
12:13:55Cathy E : Here, Here...I would love to be wired at home :)
12:14:59PeggyG : money!!!
12:15:22Lisa Parisi : YEs, Peggy.
12:15:39Cathy E : My electricity has gone out 3 times this week.
12:15:40PeggyG : we've had a "small" recession since
that announcement :-)
12:15:48Lisa Parisi : Just a small one.
12:16:13PeggyG : we've lost so many public services with
devastating impact on education and teachers
12:16:16Sheila : Due to weather Cathy?
12:16:36Cathy E : yep - been blowing here for 4 days
12:16:57minhaaj : Wonderful show as always. Gotta leave
unfortunately. Its always sad to leave you lovely ladies :)
12:17:00minhaaj : Rock on!
12:17:10Lisa Parisi : Bye Minhaaj
12:17:23PeggyG : I think you were right earlier when you said it
was more important to ask parents what they want to know and offer that on that
night--you can always share your curriculum info, homework/grading policies in
12:17:23mariak : Thanks for stopping by, Minhaaj
12:17:53marragem : for mine the focus, sadly, is on homework
12:18:34Lisa Parisi : And mine is testing...very sad indeed
12:18:41PeggyG : you have to "kick them out"--that's
where the principal comes in over the intercom and says you have 10 minutes to
leave and the lights will go out and the doors will be locked--in a nice way of
12:19:03marragem : hoemwork in preschool?
12:19:11Lisa Parisi : Usually, Peggy, the principal has to come
down the hall and into my room to tell the parents that I need to get home.
12:19:47marragem : I know of other schools where the Prep
(Kindergarten) classes have homework. Levelled readers, phonics work. Ugh!
12:19:53PeggyG : my intercom announcement did the trick--I also
did a final, 2-minute warning...
12:21:19jenorr : I always offer to share the research that shows
that research in elementary school has not been shown to be meaningful. I also
tell parents that we will use every minute at school and at home they should
play and spend time with their family.
12:22:20PeggyG : great idea @jenorr! do you also have a school
homework policy/guidelines that support that research. That really helps to
reinforce your message :-)
12:22:28Sheila : Welcome to "Conversations" chat room!
12:23:03jenorr : Sadly there is no good school-wide policy. Our
district policy is 10 minutes per grade level (second grade is 20 min, third
grade is 30 min, etc.).
12:23:25Lisa Parisi : We have a homework policy per grade. But it only talks about the amount of time
not what it is.
12:23:26PeggyG : that helps too
12:23:42jenorr : I've had so many parents look relieved at the
idea that I want them to have family time - and this is just first graders! I
can't imagine by upper elementary.
12:23:54Lisa Parisi : Our policy is similar Jen. But we don't go past 30 minutes in 5th grade.
12:24:20PeggyG : explaining what "homework" means in
your classroom as all of you are saying really is important--not just writing
spelling words or reading 15 minutes but everything it includes
12:25:38Sheila : @Mario Do you need to change chat rooms?
12:25:55PeggyG : I love the posters that Silvia Tolisano created
to explain the learning that happens with podcasting in her room.
12:26:27PeggyG : yes Maria!! the reading is really important every
12:27:50PeggyG : great conversation today!! :-)
12:28:05PeggyG : so happy to have you back on the air!!
12:28:59Lisa Parisi : http://howdowekeepitalive.wikispaces.com/
12:29:00Sheila : Thanks Peggy! good to get back in touch with
12:29:27PeggyG : those sounds like wonderful projects Lisa!! We'll
help you spread the word.
12:30:34marragem : Yay!!
12:30:35PeggyG : woo hoo!!!!! I've been waiting to hear about your
book coming out!!!!
12:30:50PeggyG : Can't wait!!!!!
12:31:43PeggyG : I always buy the pre-order and then forget that I
did it and try to buy again when it is released!!! I need a better system to
keep track :-)
12:32:04PeggyG : congratulations Lisa and Brian!!
12:32:58PeggyG : isn't that amazing--we "know" and
collaborate with so many people we have never met f2f
12:33:44PeggyG : once some people start contributing to the wikis
they will grow quickly as they get an idea about what to share
12:34:59marragem : they're sold as pets here
12:36:04PeggyG : have a great rest of your day/weekend! Thanks for
an interesting, engaging conversation today!!
12:36:29Lisa Parisi : http://ettconversations.blogspot.com/