January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Bridging the Communication Gap Between Teacher and Parent

Posted: Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

by Amanda L. Smith

When I think back to being a brand new teacher, one of my biggest regrets was not communicating with parents more.  To be honest, learning how to bridge the communication gap between teacher and parent is still one of my biggest challenges each new school year.  Here are some tips on how to develop a good relationship with your classroom parents, and whether you have 25 students or closer to 200, you can always find creative ways to do this.

  • Keep parents informed on a regular basis about what you are doing in your classroom:

♦ Parents really appreciate hearing about all the daily/weekly/monthly activities going on in your classroom.  This can be done in a variety of ways, such as a weekly or monthly newsletter, class webpage, or take-home letters.  You can include projects, activities, fun events on campus, etc.

♦ It’s helpful to regularly update parents on their child’s academic and behavior performance as well.  As a middle school teacher I send out weekly or at least biweekly updates via text message and email to my students’ parents about academics and behavior.  This has helped greatly with keeping students on track, and also helps the individual student stay accountable for their actions and work ethic.

  • Disciplining students:

♦ Parents will be much more supportive of your discipline plan both inside and outside the classroom if you contact them as soon as negative behavior starts.  Waiting too long to contact parents gives little time to correct the issue and make positive corrections.  If a parent does not know about a behavior problem, it makes it difficult for them to support what you are doing in your classroom.

  • You can always say no to parents:

♦ Remember that you are the final decision maker in your classroom.  You can always politely, gently and firmly, say, “No!”  Sometimes parents need to learn restraint just as much as their children do.  Feel confident in your decision to say no when it is appropriate.

  • No news is not always good news:

♦ Parents enjoy hearing about the positives much more than the negatives.  Just think about the typical student who has a lot of behavior problems, is talkative in class, and does not turn in homework; the parent of that student may only hear about these negative behaviors, and probably doesn’t relish the constant reminders.  However, sending short emails, phone calls, or text messages about something positive can really make a difference.  I like to send home updates on high test scores, vast improvements in class participation, “light bulb” moments during discussions, etc.  A balance of positives with the negatives definitely helps parents to remember that their child is capable of learning, and can do well in school, even when faced with the challenging behavior issues mentioned above.

  • Never give up on a parent (even if they seem to have given up on you):

♦ Not every parent can show up to meetings, or be reached by email or phone, and sending home notes is not always successful…so what do you do?  Continue making phone calls and leaving messages (document all of your attempts), send letters home in the mail (instead of sending them home with the student), and if your school or district allows, make a home visit.  Persistence can be the key to communicating with a seemingly unreachable parent.

  • Additional ways to work with parents:

♦ Encourage parents to participate in class and school-wide activities.

♦ Reward, recognize and thank parents for their efforts (even for the small things).

♦ Ask parents to come into the classroom and share their hobbies and talents.  Just because you can’t paint with oils on canvas, doesn’t mean one of your parents can’t.  Students can learn a lot from the talents of others, including your own classroom parents.

♦ Assure parents that you are truly invested in their child’s learning and remind them that the reason you need their involvement is for the benefit of their child.

Written by Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith is a science teacher at Wilder’s Preparatory Academy Charter School and a member of CSTA.

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STEM Conference Hosted by CMSESMC

Posted: Saturday, January 14th, 2017

The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.

Teachers, administrators, and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information, and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching. Register online today!

Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Submit Your NGSS Lessons and Units Today!

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.

If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Opportunity for High School Students – Los Angeles County

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Science Education Policy Update

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing

The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

Learn More…

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

NSTA Los Angeles Conference Features Many CA Science Leaders

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

The early-bird registration rates for the 65th NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Los Angeles is just days away (ends Feb. 3). And as the early-registration deadline approaches excitement is building for what is anticipated to be the largest gathering of science educators (both California and nationwide) – with attendance expected to reach 10,000 or more. If you have never had the pleasure of attending the NSTA National Conference, I recommend you visit their website with tips for newcomers that describe the various components of the event. A conference preview is also available for download. Learn More…

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.