Program standard 7.1 Communicating with Families: Teacher communicates with families about students’ progress on a regular basis, respecting cultural norms, and is available as needed to respond to family concerns. To me, this standard explains the importance of talking to parents and having an open line of communication, helping parents understand what is going on in the classroom and how their child is learning and progressing. On a regular basis, I am communicating with parents through phone calls, emails, weekly newsletters, and impromptu meetings at pick up and drop off times. Homework assignments will sometimes consist of students teaching their parents what they have learned for the day, so that parents are “in the loop” about what is happening in the classroom. I have intentionally designed my classroom to have these open lines of communication. I readily meet with parents as needed and have an open-door in the mornings and after-school, and am open to conferences with many different constituents (parents, faculty, etc.). I send weekly eNews updates and update my classroom website with photos and a calendar. I listen to all sides of the stories before conferencing about what is going on with students.
Finally, and most importantly in my practice, are the narrative report cards that I create three times a school year. Each child’s parents get a report about their child’s learning in all six subjects in the form of a narrative paragraph, including a summative grade for each subject, and grade for up to 6 standards in each subject. Not only is this a student and family discussion, this is with all educational stakeholders in the school; grade level partners participate in peer editing before it is sent to our division director for a final edit, meaning we have multiple versions created before the final goes out to parents more than a month after they are started. Through this process, I have learned a lot about myself as a teacher and educator. I’ve learned how to recognize and explain the standards that my students need improvement in as evidence in the work that is done in class. I’ve learned how to use multiple forms of assessments to assess a student’s progress towards the standards. I’ve learned how I can properly communicate to parents in a way that they will allow them to fully understand their child’s learning. Lastly, I’ve learned about time management. Because this is such a lengthy process, planning is crucial so that I can put some intentional comments and thought into the reports. Overall, narrative reports and standards-based report cards will help me in the future with being able to streamline the ways that I learn about and assess students, helping me be more organized and intentional in my lessons, and taking better care of myself through careful planning.