Teacher-Parent Relationships

Kids reading to prevent

Dozens of studies show that children need to continue to read and learn during the summer to avoid the learning loss known as “summer slide.” Matthew Boulay, PhD, founder of the National Summer Learning Association, believes that partnerships between parents and teachers are absolutely essential during the summer months. Summer learning loss can impact year-round… Read More

Fortunately, they are rare. I’m talking about “big” parents — the ones who are loud, confrontational and bordering on combative. They can make a teacher’s work life challenging, to say the least. Big parents consistently push back on your expectations, challenge your grades or provide little or no support at home. But there are ways… Read More

From time to time, a child will experience a loss in their life. It may be something many would consider minor, like a family pet or a distant relative, but sometimes it can be as serious as a sibling, close family relative, parent or grandparent. When this happens (and if you teach long enough it… Read More

Getting Kids Moving Helps Build Brain Power

By Brian Gatens May 9, 2016

Children are born movers. They squirm, run, walk around and stay active anytime/anywhere. Yet when they get to school, it’s all about sitting still and keeping silent. Of course, we have to establish an expectation they stay still and silent because that helps everybody pay close attention. And we have to keep control in the… Read More

To win in sports, school and life, young people need to improve their ability to focus on specific tasks and filter out distractions, says James I. Millhouse, a clinical sport psychologist who wrote “The Parents Manual of Sport Psychology.” Millhouse’s book has helped the parents of top athletes guide their children to major championships. But… Read More

Melissa Schwartz and her mother, Sandi Schwartz, created Leading Edge Parenting to help parents learn to discipline their children in an emotionally healthy way. Their core philosophy is that parents deserve to know about effective ways to inspire cooperation, responsibility and natural, joyful learning in their children. Teachers can learn a lot from their approach,… Read More

Helping a Child Unfold: What Every Teacher Needs to Do

By Brian Gatens April 25, 2016

I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking I’ve heard it all when it comes to children and their growth. But I heard something recently that had not occurred to me before. A commentator mentioned she considers her primary responsibility to be to help a child “unfold.” I found that image striking, and soon started thinking more and… Read More

From time to time, you’ll have to manage complex at-home family dynamics for your students. Acrimonious divorces, dysfunctional spouses, meddling grandparents — if you teach long enough, you’ll see these and more (fortunately, they’re the exception rather than the rule). Regardless of the dynamic, rest assured there are time-tested, helpful strategies for helping the child… Read More

Don't Abolish Homework: Just Make Sure It's Worthwhile

By Brian Gatens March 31, 2016

Homework has been having a rough go of it lately. On one side, schools, teachers and parents argue that it’s essential to extend the school day beyond the classroom so students can review information, finish projects and read ahead to gain a better understanding of upcoming class topics. On the other side, critics call homework… Read More

During my first year in the classroom, I had several students who didn’t complete multiple homework assignments, didn’t study for tests and rarely participated in class. I responded by meeting with them several times, contacting their parents, offering multiple opportunities to make up missed assignments — extending myself to them above and beyond the expectations… Read More

Saving Weekends for Yourself — 5 Tips for Teachers

By Brian Gatens March 7, 2016

The boundaries between work and home have never been more blurry. With such easy access to technology and email at everyone’s fingertips, passionate teachers can find it all but impossible to hit the “off” switch at the end of a busy week. There always seems to be another email to respond to or another task… Read More

In our screen-filled world of six-second videos and shrinking attention spans, we tend to forget there was a time when the written word bound us together. But some schools still remember the unique ability of books to unify. They’re launching “one school/one book” reading programs based on a devilishly simple concept: A common book, selected… Read More

One of the most positive and heartening trends in American schools has been the inclusion of special-needs students into typical classrooms. Of course, this does not happen easily. It requires significant teamwork by the school, accommodations by the classroom teacher and a lot of trial and error to determine the best program. Classroom teachers need to take… Read More

It’s going to happen. You’ll be doing everything right — classes flowing smoothly, students enjoying your challenges, assessments being administered and grades being reported — but there’s one family that simply isn’t happy. Whether they object to their child’s classroom experience, learning progress or overall experience, they’ll return to you time and time again with concerns… Read More

Give Them a Nudge: 5 Handy Ways to Help Students Improve

By Brian Gatens December 28, 2015

Change doesn’t always arrive in grand or dramatic fashion (and you should be skeptical when people promise otherwise). Instead, change comes gradually over weeks and months with the help of many healthy “nudges” to keep it moving in the right direction. Nudges are little things you can do in the classroom that add to the… Read More