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Want a different outcome? Start with communication basics

Communication skills matter. Yet when it comes to our loved ones, sometimes we forget how to do it. Our choice of words, tone, and body language are the difference between productive conversations and the explosive ones where everybody shuts down.   We sometimes forget that our kids, even the teenage variety, are still children. They are not small adults. It falls on us to teach them effective communications skills by modeling the correct behavior. Some kids can be more challenging than others but when our conversations are full of emotion, no one is listening or learning. So where do we start to ensure the communication basics are always top of mind?

Step one is dealing with feelings. Listen to and acknowledge your child’s feelings, don’t dismiss them, even if you don’t understand them. As Elaine Mazlish explains in her book How to Talk so Teens will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk, you have a better chance of being heard if you start by letting your kids know they have been heard. This is actually the case for adults too.  Acknowledging your kids’ feelings creates a safe place for them to talk by letting them know you are in their corner. This can be hard to do when they are irrational, acting out, or being disrespectful, but that’s when it’s most important keep ourselves from escalating and making things worse.  These behaviors are merely symptoms of an underlying problem or frustration they are dealing with but can’t figure out how to communicate.

Getting things done

Ok, so I have heard and acknowledged my child’s feelings, now what? As you know sometimes it’s just about getting things done like chores or participating in packing for a trip. It is vital that our kids learn the skills of taking care of themselves, their surroundings, and helping out their family.  Here are some more tips from How to Talk so Teens will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk  that both my husband and I utilize with our teens which have made a positive impact in our family dynamic:

  1. Describe the problem and leave the accusing comments at the door. Last summer we entrusted the boys with the job of painting the fence in the backyard.  Instead of using the utility sink in the basement, they decided to clean their brushes in the bathroom.  Needless to say, there was paint splattered on the walls, floor, counters, and sink. I wanted to say “What is wrong with you?  Look at the mess you made!  That wasn’t very smart.”  Instead I pointed out the mess, calmly explained that the bathroom is not where we clean paint brushes and asked how they would rectify the situation. They both agreed to clean up their mess and use the utility sink in the future.  No fuss, no muss and they happily finished the job with no further incidents.
  2. Say it with a word or a gesture. Less is more. In our house, it can consist of just saying: “Sam, dishes” after which Sam usually says “Oh, yeah” and then puts his dishes away. I have explained why putting the dishes away is important before but the teenage brain likes to forget.  There’s no point rehashing the why and getting into a lengthy exchange that just results in eye rolls and unnecessary animosity.    A quick reminder is all that’s necessary and its mission accomplished.  With all the repetition, he has learned breakfast isn’t over till you put your dishes away.
  3. Describe what you feel without attacking or mocking your student. We have a non-negotiable rule in our house that there are no phones in the bedroom at night, yet somehow my youngest “accidentally” brought his to bed a few times one week recently. This really pushes my buttons because I consider this sneaky and deceitful. So I told him that I was upset and felt that finding his phone again in the bedroom made me not trust him. He proceeded to explain that he had to show his brother something and then forgot to bring his phone back downstairs. My response was simply, “Ok, but that doesn’t change the rule of no phones in the bedroom when it’s time to go to sleep. My job is follow through and if I make exceptions, what’s the point of the rule.” He understood how I felt and handed over the phone and that was it. In this case, by explaining how his actions impacted me before simply taking his phone, we avoided certain conflict and hard feelings. Moving forward the phone stayed in the kitchen when he went to bed.

Communication is an art form that when perfected elicits positive relationships with those around us.  When spoken to with respect, kindness, and patience, we are fulfilled and open to one another. Some days I am better than others in modeling this behavior. When I misstep, I take a breath, apologize if I bungled it, and try again. By sticking to the basics we build a connection with our kids instead of alienating them. The goal is that they know they can come to us for anything when life hits them hard. What can you do to improve to the dialogue with your kids so you too can have better results?

 

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

 

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Mindful Parent to Teacher Communications – Lessons Learned

Sometimes keeping up on school emails, newsletters, permissions slips, activity sign-ups, announcements, and checking data in the online student tracking system, the Parent Portal, can seem a little overwhelming for parents. As a working mom with two active children in two different schools, I often find myself skimming communications from both schools between running from one activity to the next. If I have questions about grades or activities or something that happened at school, I quickly send an email to a teacher.

In the past, a rushed email to a teacher may have come off as impatient or judgmental, when it was more likely just a quick message without much thought put into it at all and sent between a meeting at work, pick up from basketball practice and a grocery store run. I’ve learned over the years to take a few extra moments and slow down and to be more thoughtful in my communications with teachers. I’ve found a few changes in my communication attitude and approach have led to more positive outcomes for my children, their teachers, and me.

Easy ways I’ve found to improve my communications with teachers include: staying positive, checking tone in emails, making appointments, and being open to listening to different perspectives.  

Daniel Patterson is a former teacher and school administrator turned parenting coach. He includes many of the same ideas on how to improve parent-teacher communications in a recent blog post Strategies for Parent-School Communications. Some of Daniel’s key parent-teacher communications strategies include: staying optimistic, respecting hierarchy, making appointments, being direct, considering threats, holding children accountable for their actions.

I’ve tried a few of these strategies over the years and found that every teacher I’ve talked with has the same goals in mind for my children: challenge them to do their best and support them in reaching their full potential.  We can all agree that our great teachers are underpaid for the time and effort they put into their jobs as they meet with parents, plan class time, grade papers and analyze test scores, often outside of school hours. Raising teachers’ salaries and lightening their workload is not something I can do today. However, I’ve learned that just taking a few extra moments and being more mindful in my communications with teachers goes a long way in supporting and respecting their work. 

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Are Children Becoming Less Creative?

Sharing a recent article from the publication “ExchangeEveryDay” about creativity trends in US education. Interesting reading: why are the creativity scores of America’s youth falling?

“Kyung Hee Kim, Ph.D., an educational psychologist at the College of William & Mary, in Virginia, has spent the past decade poring over the creativity scores of more than 300,000 American K-12 students. The news is not good: ‘Creativity scores have significantly decreased since 1990,’ she says. Moreover, ‘creativity scores for kindergartners through third-graders decreased the most, and those from the fourth through sixth grades decreased by the next largest amount.'” So writes Carolina A. Miranda in a CNN blog post.

She explains, “The scores Kim is referring to are those generated by the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking — the standard-bearer in assessing creativity in children since the 1960s. In fact, the results of the Torrance Tests are also better indicators of lifetime creative accomplishment than childhood IQ. The tests consist of open-ended questions, such as ‘How many uses can you think of for a toothbrush?’ Scores are awarded based on the number and originality of the ideas produced. A creative child might respond by saying that he can brush his cat’s teeth, polish a rock, and clean his fingernails — all answers that show dexterity in generating a wide range of potentially useful ideas.”

Source: “Why we need to let kids be creative,” by Carolina A. Miranda, January 3, 2012, CNN.com

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Lessons from Bob Ross and The Importance of Positive Energy in Parenting

It’s funny where you can find parenting inspiration. My junior in high school came home one day last week and asked “who is Bob Ross?”  You know, the famous painter of happy little trees from the 80’s.  He had seen a trailer for the next Deadpool movie with Ryan Reynold’s that started with a spoof of his PBS show “The Joy of Painting”.  After watching the trailer ourselves (caution, may not be appropriate for all ages) and laughing a little harder than our son expected, we explained who the real Bob Ross was and had to show both of our boys a video of his actual show from the archives. We thought they’d last five, maybe ten minutes but to our surprise, they were mesmerized and watched the entire episode.

Positive Perspective

His soft spoken style and quirky humor had them smiling and amazed at how he could create a complete oil painting landscape from scratch in less than 30 minutes.  My husband and I had forgotten how full of positive energy and life lessons he was. After watching two more episodes as a family, we came away with some great quotes from Bob Ross to keep things in perspective:

  • “We don’t make mistakes. We just have happy little accidents.”
  • “In painting, you have unlimited power. You have the ability to move mountains. You can bend rivers. But when I get home, the only thing I have power over is the garbage.”
  • “Talent is a pursued interest. Anything that you’re willing to practice, you can do.”
  • “It’s the imperfection that makes something beautiful, that’s what makes it different and unique from everything else.”

As parents, we can get caught up in the pressure of the daily grind and let our imaginations around our kids future get the better of us. Life is about the small things and the life lessons along the way.  These Ross’isms are a friendly reminder that it takes courage to step out of our comfort zone and just getting started.

What To Do With Feedback

A key theme from Ross is that we are not good at everything, and that’s ok.  He tells a story about how he studied under a master portrait painter for a year. Finally his portrait teacher pulled him aside and suggested he stick to landscapes.  Ross laughs about this and agreed with this feedback. Learning to take constructive feedback is a learned skill as it’s important we teach our kids what to do with that information. This feedback could have easily discouraged Ross or caused him to resent his teacher.  Instead he realized he needed to spend his time, energy, and focus on his passion which was landscapes.  He turned this focus into a fifteen million dollar business. In today’s world, it is more important than ever to teach your kids how to focus their attention, energy, and time on their talents and interests.

Finally, most people don’t realize that before pursuing his passion for painting, Ross was a sergeant in the Air Force whose job it was to yell and scream and order people around.  After leaving the Air Force, he decided he would never yell at anyone again.  Ross provided value and made a big impact with his show and business, all while speaking softly and having a sense of humor.  If there is a lot of yelling in your family, ask yourself how effective that has been.  Can we reduce the volume and develop a greater connection with our kids while achieving better results?

As Ross reminds us, the only things we have control over are ourselves and the garbage. If you are experiencing the normal frustrations of parenting, I highly recommend watching an episode or two of his show to gain a little perspective.  At the very least, his soft spoken style and words of wisdom will provide some momentary relief and a chuckle. Think of it as an alternative to meditation.

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Changing Traditions and The Death of the Chocolate Santa Clause

The chocolate Santa Clause first poked his head out of my stocking in 1965. All you could see was that shiny, silvery red head just above those glinty Santa eyes. He’s appeared in my stocking every year since then. That’s 48 years of Santa heads peering out at me. There won’t be one there this year. My family informed me that it is a waste of time, we already have too many sweets around the house during the holidays that are a lot better. (I am willing to concede the second half of this argument but, REALLY, I did not know there was such a thing as too many sweets).

I’ve reluctantly conceded. Santa will be missed.

Tradition is a hard thing to break. Have you ever noticed how “traditions” are romanticized when you talk about personal traditions but professional traditions can be seen as pejorative; as in “mired in old traditions”? I don’t think it is that simple. As a boss when do you give up on doing things the way they’ve always been done? The question is not easy to answer.

Tradition reinforces culture, creates a foundation. I don’t know if the story attributed to Pablo Picasso is true, but it is rumored that he said you must first learn to paint like the masters before you can extend the boundaries of your own art.

As a school communications entrepreneur I continuously challenge myself and my customers to extend the boundaries of their art. So maybe I shouldn’t really complain that the “art” of great Christmas Chocolate has moved beyond stale milk chocolate Santas.

I am going to begin a tradition of dark chocolate peppermint bark.

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Parent portal got you down?

 

 

Ah, the parent portal!   In theory, it offers you insight into what’s going on in your student’s academic life. The portal tells you whether your student is turning in their homework, doing okay on their tests and quizzes, going to class, etc.  You have all of the information to course correct if things have gone off track. Such a useful tool and it seems so logical and pragmatic. Oh, if it was only that simple!

Instead, going through the portal often turns into an anxious, panic ridden experience. Missing assignments, a few failed tests and your mind starts racing with negative thoughts and questions. Then the chronic checking begins. It’s like somehow if you check the portal multiple times a day, things will automagically change.  Then your student comes home and boom, the inquisition begins and she slumps in her chair or goes on the defensive.  Sound familiar?

The picture I’m painting is somewhat exaggerated but my goal is to point out that the trap we often fall into as parents of being reactive and going on the attack is not effective and damaging to your relationship. With the portal, we have more information than ever before, almost in real time, regarding the progress our students are making in school.  This sets up more opportunities than ever before for misunderstandings and conflict. As a result, we need to take what we find on the portal with a grain of salt and use it as a tool.

Have I held my breath when I checked my own kid’s portal? Absolutely! With my youngest son, school has never come easy, but hard work and reading tutors helped through middle school and he was doing well.  With the transition to ninth grade and high school however, we were very aware of the challenges this might bring. We wanted to provide him with the opportunity to succeed on his own but the portal revealed quickly that things were getting out of control, especially in science. Lots of missing assignments and low quiz and test scores.  So, my husband and I started to investigate by talking to him and asking, “What’s up?”  He had given up. He didn’t understand what was going on in class as the lectures were too fast. He wasn’t taking notes and he didn’t have a book to reference. Once he fell behind, he felt he couldn’t catch up and just couldn’t see that trying at this point would make a difference. Fortunately, we caught this early and got him support; a text book and a tutor. We also had him do his homework in the kitchen to avoid procrastination. There was always someone around to check in. He slowly dug himself out of the hole.  We still weren’t sure he was going to pass by the end of the semester so we had summer school lined up and ready to go just in case. Failing and retaking a class offers a valuable life lesson and opportunity to teach your student that it’s what they do with failure that matters.

When reviewing your student’s portal, here are some ways to look for the story behind the grade.  Remember, kids do well if they can and if they are not, there are lacking or lagging skills (Dr. Ross Green).

  • When you see the grade, avoid jumping to conclusions, the grade is the symptom not the root of the problem.
  • Sometimes the portal isn’t always updated; some teachers grade faster than others.
  • Look at effort, your student may be doing the work and just struggling on tests and quizzes.
  • Look at the classes that are going well. This is a great time to receive some student perspective on the positive

As parents, we have the challenge of not letting our emotions take over.  When your student is struggling, find a way to step back and look at the situation rationally.   If you are fraught with emotion, go for a run or workout to blow off some steam before talking about it. You need to be calm and level headed so you can have a productive dialogue and problem solve. You will be doing a lot of listening and asking questions. If you’re driving everything and your student isn’t brainstorming solutions, she isn’t learning anything and it won’t stick.

If your student isn’t sure why the portal shows she’s doing so poorly, this is also a great opportunity to teach self-advocacy skills. Have him reach out to his teacher to figure out what’s going on and work together to improve the process. Depending on her confidence level, you might have her start with an e-mail. If she is comfortable talking to the teacher after class, even better.  You can always follow up with an e-mail of your own to make sure he followed through.

The parent portal is a great tool that allows you to monitor progress and catch issues early.  The key is how you engage your student with that information to make the conversation constructive and productive.  The big tip is it’s about listening, asking questions, and collaborative problem solving.  It’s ok if you don’t have all the answers. When you are just as clueless about what to do as they are, laugh about it and let them know it’s not just them. Just breath and embrace the opportunity to figure things out together.

 

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What Information Do Parents Want From Schools

A Survey conducted by the National School Public Relations Association(NSPRA) looked at how parents want schools to communicate with them. One section of this survey focused on what information they want the schools to share.

What News They Want

When you are talking about what information parents want from their schools, most communications priorities are the same regardless of grade level:

  • Updates on their child’s progress or insight on how they improve
  • Timely notice when performance is slipping
  • Information on what their child is expected to learn during this year
  • Homework and grading policies

Parents also want much the same information from both elementary and secondary schools:

  • Curriculum descriptions and information on instructional programs
  • A calendar of events and meetings
  • Information on student safety (and quality of teaching, at the elementary level)
  • Educational program changes and updates (elementary level)/curriculum updates and changes in instructional programs (secondary level).

Rounding out the top five for elementary schools was information comparing their school’s performance to others; for secondary, information on graduation and course requirements.

*This information comes from an Article posted in Edutopia by Anne O’Brien, Deputy Director of the Learning First Alliance

 

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Is Sleep the New Non-Negotiable?

Get off The Hamster Wheel

I was working with a client that was trying to figure out how he could get more work done instead of procrastinating and going down the YouTube & Facebook bunny trails. He finished each day feeling anxious and wrapped in guilt that he had not accomplished more.  Sound familiar?

Maybe you or your student have been on the hamster wheel to nowhere and can’t figure out how to get off. After peeling back the onion, what we realized was that he wasn’t getting enough sleep. We had to focus on how to wind down his day to setup a good night sleep before thinking about strategies to get his work done.

You have probably seen some of the latest research regarding sleep deprivation and the effects on the brain. Just one night of poor sleep can affect cognitive ability, mood, coordination, attention, decision making, among others. Absent enough rest, the brain functions at a much slower rate and we have trouble concentrating, thinking clearly, and become more emotional.

Have you ever noticed when you don’t get enough sleep, just finding your keys in the morning can be a struggle? Maybe your sleep deprived kids seem pricklier and more defiant (this also applies to adults.)

Sleep Washes Away The Bad, Cycles in the Good

Sleeping provides the brain with an opportunity to do a “rinse cycle” and get rid of all the toxins that have accumulated throughout the day. When you go to sleep, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid increases significantly, washing away the harmful toxins and waste proteins that build up between the brain cells during waking hours. These toxins have been linked with Alzheimer’s disease.

Not only are you removing toxins, sleeping is also what enables your brain to consolidate and move information into long term memory. It is this process that then allows the brain to recall and use information to solve problems.  One study showed that teenagers receiving just 18 extra minutes of sleep improved their grades in math and English.  Even the great inventor Thomas Edison recognized the power of sleep to stimulate new thoughts and ideas.  He would put ball bearings in his hand, doze off and when they fell to the ground and the noise woke him up he was able to come up with new approaches. (p. 30-31 a Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley, Ph.D.) This explains why our greatest ideas often come to us during our morning shower!

Turn Screen Time Into Sleep Time

What is it that prevents us from getting enough sleep? Unless you have sleep apnea or some other medical explanation, I’ve got one word for you – screens!  Screens can include anything from browsing the internet, social media, video games, Netflix, and YouTube. The issue of endlessly pursuing electronic devices isn’t unique to our kids or millennials.  It does not discriminate by gender, age, or ethnicity. I too have fallen into this trap that takes away from my ability to do my best the following day.

While staring at screens during the day can be detrimental to our productivity and connection with actual human beings, it’s at night that it sets us up for disaster when it comes to sleep.  It is so easy to get sucked into staying up way past our bed time reading the news or catching up on facebook. The blue light emanating from our devices tricks your brain into thinking its daytime. This keeps it in a higher state of arousal and hyper focus similar to the effect of caffeine or even amphetamines. You might as well just drink a cup of coffee right before going to bed.

“So, am I ok if I just dial up the orange light on my device at night,” you might ask?  It’s not just the blue light that causes problems. When you are watching or interacting with a screen, you are increasing the release of certain chemicals into the brain, like dopamine, and stimulating natural reward pathways that feeds the need for additional gratification.   This is why it is so easy to say just 10 more minutes and then end up binge watching an entire season of Game of Thrones late into the night.

A Good Rule To Follow

In our household, there is a “no electronic devices in the bedroom” rule when it is time to go to bed for all of us.  Before implementing this rule, I struggled, looking at work emails after climbing into bed, which kept my mind racing well after turning off the light.  Now I pick up a book instead and I’m fast asleep in ten minutes. Our goal is screens off at least 30 minutes before bed. Are these evening habits always executed perfectly? Nope, we have good days and bad. But I do notice a huge difference in how the end of my day sets me up for the next.  I feel better, am more inclined to work out, go for walks, and am more patient with my kids when they are being knuckleheads.  Even they freely admit that they are wrecked the next day when they slip and sneak a peek at their devices before bed. Having one policy that applies to everyone reduces resistance and from the minions as we are modeling the behavior we expect from our kids. They love to point out any hypocrisy.  In this case, it’s hard to argue.

So how are you going to close out your day? What is your evening routine? Is it worth finding a way as a family to get an extra 18 minutes of sleep?

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How to Successfully Brand Your Business to the K-12 Audience

You may have noticed that lots of stores like Walmart and Target use a very basic technique for reaching kids. They put products at eye level, basically guaranteeing they’re going to be able to reach what they want. As kids get older, they can reach a little higher. So that Playstation video game is a little more expensive the higher in the case it sits. And that toy gets a little more complicated, requiring not 100 but maybe 1000 Lego pieces. Why do they do this?

Consider that the Department of Agriculture finds that cost of raising a child averages out at over $230,000 – and that’s before college. So, there’s clearly a lot at stake tapping into the K-12 demographic.

Beyond putting products at eye level, here’s some easy ways that your sales team can reach students effectively, and very importantly, ethically. 

  • Speak their language: Schools speak a very particular language. They’re the places of homework, tests, and recess. In your promos, play this up in a fun way. “Need a homework break?” Who’d say no to that? Lots of sports camps could call themselves “the ultimate recess.” That’s going to connect with kids in a fun way.
  • Speak their parent’s language: You’ve got to communicate with parents on every level possible. Be transparent about the health and safety of your product or service. If you can’t do that, you’re likely wasting your time and money.
  • Connect with what’s trendy and run kid-centered promotions: Products change fast. Trends don’t. If you can market yourself in trendy, fun way, you’re going to get repeat customers. And remember, a happy parent’s kids are happy. At a restaurant, it doesn’t cost much for kids to eat free, and happy parents can pass that great deal on.
  • Get yourself known in schools Sponsor events if you can. You want to create buzz around your service. Kids can do the branding for you. Are you an ice cream shop? See if you can get an ice-cream social going at school. Are you a food truck? Get yourself involved in field days.
  • Create Original Content Students are more tech savvy every year. They’re going to Google you. Probably run an Instagram search, too. In fact, you want them too – it means you’ve resonated. If you’re coming up with some cool content, that’s going to go a long way in getting them back in.

You can also sponsor a school newsletter with The School Communications Agency. We do the branding for you! Reach out to us – we’d love to hear from you.

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10 Effective Communication Tips For Teachers, Parents, and Students

The beginning of a school year is an exciting time, with a ton of activity. In addition to building goals, it’s also super important for setting clear, crisp communication guidelines. Purposeful communication makes the beginning of the school year so much easier for everyone involved. A smooth beginning might not guarantee perfection, but you can be sure that a mismanaged beginning is a recipe for dealing with behavioral issues and playing catch up.

August and September are also the months when it seems as if things are happening at 100 mph.  Communication is key throughout the year, so begin early. They can be huge time savers in the end.

Teacher Tip One: Teachers, mail a postcard home and then make a follow up phone call during the first week. Sending a postcard home addressed to students makes them feel welcome in their new class. It also eases anxiety. Sending a card with a personal touch on it, like a favorite sports team or a national park you might have visited during the summer, humanizes the experience as well. In your note, remind the student they are going to have a great year. When the first week of class ends, call the parents letting them know how great their child’s first week was. If this sounds like a lot of work, you are most likely to go to voicemail, based on personal experience. Leave an upbeat message. It will make a huge impression.

Teach Tip Two: Spend the first few weeks with at least one getting to know you activity per day, and be sure it involves oral or written communication. You want to build new relationships right away. You also want to develop a routine where students are comfortable sharing ideas in small groups. Bring the class back together and pull names out of a hat so one or two students can comment on how the activity worked. As always, give them the option to pass, ensuring shy students aren’t put on the spot.

Teacher Tip Three: As a culmination of the first few weeks, invite the principal into your class to firm up rules and expectations. Tell the students the principal is coming as an advocate and confidante. Principals are extremely busy people, so you will only need a few minutes of their time to make an impression with students. Getting students and administration some time together is a huge step in building trust that can come in extremely useful when there are disciplinary issues.

Teacher Tip Four: Have a welcome back party with your teaching team, and be sure to invite family along. Do this early, and as often as possible. Reinforce learning as a fun activity. You can even have themed parties, showcasing work. I used to love hosting international days that the class worked in with history units. We served great cuisine, had a bunch of fun, and reinforced all our learning goals.

Parent Tip One: Parents, write an email to the teacher asking how you can help make the year a good one. In your introductory email let them know that you are so glad that your son or daughter has such a dedicated teacher. Flattery always goes a long way, especially in an inbox. Teachers get dozens of emails a day, so be sure to establish a partnership that serves everyone’s best interest, including the teacher’s.

Parent Tip Two: Attend all the welcome back events you can, and be sure to casually establish a rapport with your children’s teachers. It’s fine to talk shop at welcome events. Likely, you’ll want to set up a formal meeting because teachers are limited by confidentiality in how much they can go into detail with a bunch of other people around. And don’t be afraid to ask for a conference early on. This is often the least busy time of year for teachers and so meeting them for a conference is a lot easier, especially if you pitch it as proactive session.

Parent Tip Three: Find out how involvement will look. An overly strong parent advocate can, potentially, work against the very thing the teacher is working on, like building autonomy. Communication by all parties is important. For example, some kids want to be dropped off at class all the way till high school. Some kids want autonomy by second grade. These are telling signals and can inform all parties on the best way to handle academic, social, and emotional intervention. This is one of the touchier areas, because we all want to do the right thing, and sometimes the right thing is letting the child work an issue out on his or her own.

Student Tip One: Students, get a planner and a planner buddy who is more organized than you are. This is pretty self explanatory. If you are not organized, you’ll know it. You’re losing things. Missing deadlines. Or your planner make you feel like this. Some students are more meticulous than their teachers. Essentially, make sure the super organized can help the less organized. As a teacher, I’d choose a buddy to help me organize my busy desk, reinforcing their own organization.

Student Tip Two: Be proactive and communicate early with the teacher, letting them know what you’d like to get out of the school year. I’ve had students personally shake my hand after the first day of school. That made quite an impression. If that’s not so easy for you, send them an email, letting them know where you want to succeed. Or chocolate always works. Whatever way is easiest for you, being proactive with a teacher goes a very long way. Remember, teachers are human beings; they like getting nice things. And nothing’s nicer than a student who shows interest.

Student Tip Three: Join a club or, better yet, create one on your own. Chances are there are likeminded people out there who’d be thrilled with your idea. Find a cause. Draft a fantasy team. Build a Minecraft network. Volunteer to grade papers. Above all, get recognized for doing the right thing and for stepping up. School’s got enough social pressures to begin with, so why not come up with something that brings people together? It will definitely set you apart, and open up all kinds of opportunities to be engaged and engage others.

If you find these ideas are working for you personally, let us know! We’d love to hear from you. And thanks for considering The School Communications Agency for all your school communications needs.

 

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