I had my yearly curriculum night this week, an evening that some teachers dread. Even though it makes for a long day (and night), I enjoy the experience of meeting the parents, letting them see a bit into their child’s world, and hopefully getting them on board with what I do in my classroom.
My biggest challenge with this night – I only get 10 minutes with each class to explain my grading system, how to get extra help, my curriculum, my expectations, contact information, etc. Any of these could take up all 10 of those minutes, but I must carefully divide my time, try not to overwhelm my parents, and maintain my enthusiasm for learning and their children.
So, here is what I did this year. I welcomed my parents and thanked them for taking the time to come and learn about my class. I let them know various ways to get in touch, and included my blog address and twitter handle. I set out my expectations, which are:
- Work hard every day.
- Have fun.
- Search for learning in every experience.
- Relentless pursue success and mastery of the standards.
- Be kind.
At this point, I could see parents nodding along with me, and looking like they were agreeing with what I had to say. So far, so good! After that I needed to get into my differentiated methodology and standards based grading system, but I had to tell them one more thing first. I said, “You need to understand that your children and their learning is the most important thing to me.” At the high school level we can get very bogged down with curriculum guides, standardized testing, and content standards. I knew that it was imperative for me to communicate that learning is the focus of my room, relationships are key, and once those are in place the rest will follow.
I spent the rest of my time explaining how I differentiate for all learners, how standards based grading works and makes grades meaningful, how redos and retakes impact student success and learning, and how we would infuse technology in the classroom.
By the end of the night, there were many thank yous and smiles as they went on to their other classes, but my favorite comment of the night from one parent was “Thank you for all your enthusiasm, my daughter loves your class.”
Bring your enthusiasm and love of learning to your class each day, and extend it to your parents!