Week twenty three
National School Counselors' Week
1. Approach Parents with Positive Assumptions
Parents are your friends. They want to partner with you. They want to see their child succeed more than anything else. Parent conferences might be an opportunity for you to surface your beliefs about parents and reflect on them, but when you engage with parents, even if you hold some doubts about them, put those aside. Welcome every parent as your strongest ally in working with your student (their child).
2. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
What is your goal or objective for the time you have with parents? What exactly do you want to communicate? What would you like the outcome of this meeting to be?
Here's an example: My goal in Maria's conference is for her mom to see the growth she's made in writing this fall and to determine some ways that she can be more organized. I also want to hear her mom's perspective on the social challenges she's dealing with.
Then prepare your materials. Have notes, tests, and work samples, but plan exactly what you want to share. Don't just sit down with parents and open a massive folder bursting with student work. Put sticky notes on the items you want to share, select the best examples of the growth, and jot down a few notes.
3. Be Solution Oriented
Be specific when asking for change. Telling a parent, "He's distracted a lot," is useless. What is the parent (who isn't sitting next to her child all day) supposed to do with that piece of information? How can she help her child or the teacher?
Whatever support you ask from a parent needs to be something that is within her sphere of influence. Asking a parent: "Can you talk to him about being more focused?" is possible, and parents can talk and talk, but the results might be limited.
A teacher could say: "I'm concerned because your son is often distracted during independent work in my class. Here's what I'm doing to try to help him . . Do you see this behavior at home ever? Do you have any other ideas for things I could try? Can you think of anything you might be able to do?"
Always convey a growth mindset. All behaviors can change given the right conditions. If you want to see changes and have concerns about a student, be prepared to offer specific, actionable solutions.
4. Take the Opportunity to Learn
What could you ask parents that might help you better support your student? What would you like to know? If this is the first time you're sitting down with parents, it's a great opportunity to hear their perspective on their child's school experience so far, on what their child likes to do outside of school, on the questions, and concerns they have about their child. So what do you want to ask?
5. Show that You Care
For parents, conferences can be terrifying or wonderful. As a parent, I have sat across from teachers whose feelings I couldn't identify -- I actually questioned whether or not they cared about my son as a human being and as a student. I have also sat across from teachers who I wanted to jump up and hug; they so clearly cared about my boy.
Don't underestimate the power of the positive, and lead with it. Be specific in the positive data you share -- tell an anecdote or show a piece of work. Make sure you truly feel this positivity. We can all sniff out empty praise. There is always, always something positive and praise-worthy about every single child. It's your job to find it and share that data with parents.
Don't forget to take care of yourself
- Get plenty of rest. Our minds think better on a good night's sleep.
- Don't forget to eat! Skipping meals is like trying to drive on an empty tank of gas.
- Relax. Find time for yourself, if only for 15 minutes. Breathe deeply and remember how good it is to be alive to face each new day.
- Exercise. This seems impossible, especially during the long days ahead. However, exercise is an excellent stress reliever and will clear your mind of your worries.
Q: I heard that the district has received class size funding to reduce class sizes. How is this money being spent? Our class sizes certainly aren't smaller.
A: Our state and federal class size dollars help pay for our academic interventionists throughout the district. Reading recovery is paid for through at-risk dollars.
Q: How many PN students are open enrolled?
A: 10.3% of our student population is open enrolled. (48 students)
11.6% are choice enrolled, meaning they live in the Bettendorf district, but not within the PN boundaries .
6% of our students are AT (administratively transferred) meaning they either did not have room in their home school or their home school did not have the services we can provide.
72% of our student population are resident students, which means they reside within our PN boundaries.
I will have Cathy copy the semi-annual enrollment report for PN for all of you (the most recent report I have). It will be in your boxes by the end of the day.
Pick up: Saxon
Crow Creek: Honn/Hiatt
I did not set professional/coaching times this week due to conferences. I figured this week would not be the week you would pick to take advantage of these times. However, I am more than happy to meet with any of you that may wish to speak with me. Just let me know!
8:00 parent meeting
8:30 mtg. w/community member
Student with me all day in ISS
9:00 mtg. w/community members
12:00-3:00 TLC mtg. at AEA
1:10 Early Release
5:30-6:00 p.m. Parent mtg.
7:30 BDT meeting
12:30 Coaches' mtg.
I am taking a vacation day, so I will not be in the office. (Principals do not receive comp days)