As humans, most of us understand the importance of building relationships with each other. Reflect a minute on how much harder you work for the people close to you who understand and care about you– the people who appreciate and admire your strengths and recognize your weaknesses as areas to grow. As teachers, we spend time building relationships with coworkers and children in order to make the more challenging times in the day run a little smoother. Beyond the in-school relationships, there are the relationships with the families, which can sometimes feel like the last thing on your mind when you’re first teaching (until conferences, that is). Creating a relationship with what’s best for the child in mind is critical, especially in the field of special education; it opens you up to be a team with families to problem-solve what will work best for the child.
I can remember in graduate school when a professor explained that sending home positive notes about children is an important strategy for communication with families– to always start out on a positive note. I took this and made it a to-do for myself as a teacher. Reflecting about it in terms of the whole picture has led me to what I think is a better way of framing this strategy and advice:
As a teacher, you are a professional who works with the child and the family to help the child be more successful in the world. In order to make the most powerful impact, there needs to be a relationship with the family– not just a tally of triumphs and challenges communicated to the family. Both the positive and more challenging notes should be about who the child is– not just what the child did. Highlighting your understanding of the child is what will build your relationship with the family; it needs to be thoughtful and sincere.
The moments you live for when you teach– the triumphs– when feelings are expressed with words, concepts are understood, or a splash of independence comes out, those are the moments that families live for too. Being realistic and compassionate will give those moments the celebration they deserve.
On a connected note: Click here
My new position has its limitations, mainly time! I’m finding myself playing tech integrator, tech support and troubleshooting, and mentor to new teachers– just to name a few. The value of bouncing ideas off another person is something that is tough to replicate without the face-to-face contact and hands on experience– being in my own world of managing and implementing tech has been hard, even with the support of the online community. This week, I went to visit a school to observe the work they do with tech integration. Being there was better than all the posts I could ever read.
I got to see their work in action– not just the integration itself– the backbone to the integration: systems management, policy implementation, and a structure to model after. Being able to pick and choose what I wanted to take away for the program being developed at my school was so valuable.
First, I learned not to use Apple Configurator to manage the devices, as it’s not a well developed program for the purpose of education. I found out about Meraki– a free, web-based mobile device management system. It keeps everything so organized and makes it really easy to track devices and purchases. I began playing around with it, and it does everything I need it to do– even things I didn’t realize I’d need! Click here for a little video explanation.
After the visit, I feel ready to dive deep into the roll-out of the iPads. As excited as I am to see these devices in my school, I wonder about how they could be better, more educationally focused, and more easily shared. I’ll save that tangent for another post.
The beginning of the year is filled with ideas, aspirations, excitement, and dreams, yet slipping in the vortex of roadblocks, late-nights, and paperwork has already begun.
It’s been a tumultuous fall, both personally and professionally. This year, my position as Technology Coordinator has changed my responsibilities at work, but it hasn’t changed my understanding of the operation. The experience so far has been overwhelming, frustrating, and rewarding. I wear so many hats- teacher, mentor, editor, techie, problem-solver, and the list goes on. I love all the hats, but I’m still working through how to manage all of them without being stretched too far. Having Fridays to decompress has certainly been helpful. I’ve resolved to write more, which I also look forward to.
My incredible co-teacher from last year is a colleague and helps me out in so many ways– both emotionally and professionally. She’s my springboard for ideas and our understanding of each other and the children we work with makes it so easy to try new and adventurous lessons.
I’m in the process of reviewing a lot of Digital Citizenship materials and finding the best way to go about introducing this new curriculum to our population. For those of you who have started this curriculum, have you done all grades at once (K-5)? Or has the process been a few classes a year and build on from there?