Monday, September 9, 2013

Keeping Parents in the Loop

One of the things I love the most about my new school is the open line of communication! In our classroom we are constantly in contact with parents. I feel like this is especially important in special education classes where students have extreme highs and lows in the classroom! No two days are the same and the kids aren't the best at expressing why they are having an "off" day. Here are a few of the ways we keep in touch with parents in our co-teaching classroom. Keep in mind we have 11 main students with 2 teachers, along with a couple others we work with during small groups. We divide the work between the two of us.

Day to Day Updates
A couple of our kids have more than the usual highs and lows. We send those parents updates about what went well and what triggers/reactions we saw during the day. We find this especially important when students are in the process of changing medications. It takes some time as well as some experimenting to get the dosage just right. Our open line of communication with parents and doctors is crucial in these situations. We also have a few students with extreme anxiety and it really helps when the parents let us know what situations are causing them to become anxious in the classroom.

We also make a point of sending home an email if a student makes a bad choice and lands on "red" which is the worst color on our behavior chart. The students know it's a consequence and the parents are aware of behavioral challenges. This often results in a chat with parents about how to make things better. We never complain about a kid being bad, it is always in conjunction with a plan of how to improve the behavior! It's important that parents, especially in special education where they here how "bad" their child is doing! Always give them hope and encouragement that this is just a bump in the road!

Student Updates
Once a month we send an update to each family about how their child is doing. This information includes a friendly story about something that happened with their child in class, progress monitoring successes, information about their math & reading improvement, and social skills improvements if applicable. This takes time, but ensures parents we are focusing on their specific children. We send every parent the same general format to make sure we are remembering to include everything for each child.

Classroom Updates
The first week of the month we send out a mass email to all of the parents. We include the details of all the things we have been doing and what we will be starting. This month we told them all about our insect unit, the Magic Tree House book we will be starting, how we've kicked off our Step-Up to Writing routine, and what we are focusing on during social skills instruction. This is wonderful way for parents to stay informed with our classroom and also reduces the emails to us asking about what or why we are doing something.

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