Teacher-Parent Relationships

Many parents think standardized tests waste their children's time, but many school districts depend on the tests to measure achievement.

Few things put parents and schools more at odds than standardized tests. Parents see the tests as pointless because they teach little more than how to take a standardized test. Yet schools know these tests can determine their ability to stay afloat: If students fail the test, the school could lose funding, get put on… Read More

Midyear can seem like the top of the mountain in your school year. By now, your class should be flowing smoothly with clear expectations for student behavior, work performance and class procedures. You’ve identified the students having difficulty and are marshaling the appropriate resources to help them out. But if this time of year is… Read More

Don't Give up on Stubborn, Defiant Students

By Brian Gatens December 10, 2015

Some students seem determined to test the boundaries of proper academic, social and interpersonal behavior. Resistant to most common interventions, they refuse to change for the better, and some will push back on your support and help. But we don’t have the option of simply discarding these children. You have to keep trying to bring… Read More

No one likes difficult conversations, but as a teacher, you cannot avoid them. Whether it’s a disaffected student, unprofessional colleague or an unreasonable parent, your time will come. These conversations will be uncomfortable, but they also offer you a chance to grow. The key is to prepare for the inevitable and conduct yourself properly when… Read More

Success lies in the small things and the big things, especially when you’re using email to communicate with students, parents and colleagues. I’ve seen many a colleague make the error of misusing their email — sometimes with disastrous results. Here’s how to keep that from happening to you: Observe the three-times rule One of my… Read More

In an age when email inboxes are overloaded and parent-teacher conferences may only occur twice per year, teachers can use a free tool called Remind to communicate with both students and parents. “Remind allows teachers to connect with students and parents via smartphone app or SMS mobile messaging,” said Brett Kopf, Remind’s CEO. Remind provides… Read More

Do our students know how to talk to each other? With adults? In the workforce? In various parts of their lives? There’s widespread anxiety that digital technology is producing children who are growing up noncommunicative and detached from society. And while it’s true that we’re seeing a massive shift in how we communicate and interact,… Read More

The One-Month Mark: Where Your Class Needs to Be

By Brian Gatens September 21, 2015

The beginning of the school year is a “getting-to-know-you” sort of time, but you need to start shifting gears by the end of the first month. The first few weeks are when the children become attuned to your personality and class expectations, while you get to know them as people and learners. Yet you can’t… Read More

Getting Parents' Feedback Early Helps Teachers All Year

By Brian Gatens September 14, 2015

Reaching out to parents early in the school year is essential to fostering strong classroom bonds and understanding the specific needs and strengths of your students. Knowing your students better helps build trust between school and home, making your job easier the rest of the year. These tips should come in handy when gathering feedback from parents:… Read More

Last week, I attended a meeting full of college instructors discussing helicopter parents. Enough of us had experienced parental interference in college courses that we debated the most effective way to detect whether writing assignments were completed by our students or their parents. High anxiety: Parental involvement in education can go too far The conversation… Read More

In an earlier post, I talked about specific ways to get your school year off to a strong start. Today I’ll focus on broader strategies for setting students up to succeed and getting parents deeply involved in their learning — both of which can energize your personal practice and your classroom. Talk about the past… Read More

Teachers: Four Ways to Start the New School Year Strong

By Brian Gatens August 6, 2015

Nothing beats a strong start to the school year. A solid opening filled with good information, positive parental contact and clear class expectations will put your class on a constructive path that will help during the doldrums of mid-year and the growing excitement of the school year nearing its end in June. Here are some… Read More

Four Great Ways to Spice up Your Teaching Practice

By Brian Gatens August 3, 2015

Is your classroom, well, boring? Do you find your school year has become a series of individual activities strung together to eat up an entire year? Maybe it’s time to use the summer break to rethink some of your more common practices and try something new. How about a podcast? In the not-so-recent past, it… Read More

The flip side of overparenting is the family who underparents their children when it comes to school work. Often it means they’re not checking homework or helping kids study for tests. Some will not respond to your attempts at communication. While these parents are the exception, not the rule, you need to take concrete steps… Read More

You’ll work with a wide spectrum of families over your career, and one of the most challenging will be the ones who over-parent their children. Popularly known as “helicopter parents,”’ they are prone to: Pouncing on a teacher seemingly from the moment an assignment is given. Micro-analyzing every grade that goes home. Looking constantly for… Read More