Coming back to fifth grade in the midst of common core meant greater rigor, high expectations, and new ways of teaching cognitive processes. I was nervous that maybe I would not have the game to rise to this new challenge and I was loosing sleep over the idea that I may not be the best teacher for my students at this time.
I decided this was going to take a lot of effort in constructing support connections and pathways of communication with stakeholders. I began building my curriculum and resources with my amazing team. I was transparent in the fact that a lot had changed since I was with “the big kids” last. I would need to work and plan with them to make sure that I was teaching those transitional standards my students still needed in order to master more complex tasks. I would need to vet the resources I was finding with the ones they knew worked. Instead of being scared about what was ahead of me, I was so excited to start building the curriculum and activities that would push my students thinking and help them achieve their goals.
My next construction “site” was building relationships with my parents and community. I would need to reestablish connections with past students and create new relationships with families who were not familiar with me or the idea of me teaching the upper grades. I decided to make that terrifying choice to send home bi-weekly progress reports with students. (You have to understand this is a terrifying event in primary grades where report cards give effort grades but progress reports only give A-F letter grades!) I did it, week 2, 4, and 7 progress reports went home and …it was ok! I had implemented the use of Class Dojo in addition to my weekly newsletter and parents were hearing about what was going on and we had two way communication. I found these tips on Twenty Tips for Developing Positive Relationships with Parents from Edutopia Oct. 28, 2015
Smile When You See Parents
Declare Your Intention
Communicate Often and in Various Forms
Lead with the Good News
Find a Translator
Invite Parents to Celebrate and Break Bread Together
Several of my professional networks are under construction as well right now. I am navigating the ways in which improved communication can strengthen these networks and move our profession forward at district levels and at a state level. This is an important time to be an educator and it is important that we find ways to clearly articulate our practice and communicate the impact of our expertise with all stakeholders. When we get the attention that our profession needs, we need to communicate from a solutions orientated perspective and be ready to tell our stories. Our students need us to be ready to tell the stories that will build a better educational system for them and their futures.
In what ways are you constructing meaningful relationships with your stakeholders? What ways can we work together in a collective voice to bring educator approved change to our profession?