Am I Wrong? Balanced Literacy and the Science of Reading

Am I Wrong? Balanced Literacy and the Science of Reading

Teachers Need Reflection Too

In international teaching, I’ve noticed the conversation of phonics comes up much more with parents than it does in the US. Especially considering the British system (that I admittedly don’t know much about) places a lot of weight on phonics. So, when I saw this debate light up again on Facebook and Instagram this fall, I wanted to learn more. My background with dyslexia, phonics, and guided reading is really skewed, and I’ve never really known what to think about the whole debate. I never really believe that something is 100% the right way and something else is 100% the wrong way. I think things are more on a continuum. I’m going to share my background story with dyslexia and balanced literacy with you so that you know where I am coming from- a very confusing place. I’m not the most credible and knowledgeable voice in this debate. 

My Background

During the beginning of my teaching career, a new reading specialist came into our building. She was studying dyslexia and would share the information she learned from time to time. I found it interesting because I didn’t know a lot about dyslexia and I LOVE to learn!

She would come into my classroom and tell me that in my class of eighteen, at least five students had dyslexia. Or she would come in to share a quick thing she learned about in an article. It felt normal, and our second-grade team liked our morning chats with her until suddenly things weren’t so normal anymore.

The App Diagnosis

One day she found a fantastic app ever that could diagnose dyslexia in children. I was skeptical of this app at best. I don’t believe that it is our job to diagnose children, and I don’t believe a new app is how to do it. She came in unannounced to test it out on my class during reader’s workshop. Not only was she extremely disruptive to the flow of our classroom during this time, but she also ended up diagnosing my entire class with dyslexia. I brushed this off and continued teaching, surely my whole class didn’t have dyslexia, right?

She then started printing off worksheet after worksheet and dropping off stacks in my classroom to help with my 100% dyslexic class. I was overwhelmed by this. This interventionist was known to blow up at teachers, so I always accepted the worksheets, and they found their way to the recycling. I didn’t want conflict (type 9 enneagram here!), but I did not want all of these resources. My kids were showing growth using balanced literacy, and if they were showing growth, I didn’t see a need to change.

Working Together

Later on that year, we decided one of my students who was reading at a level K in mid-March would benefit from some time with a reading interventionist. They needed to work on decoding longer words and deeper level comprehension. They weren’t too far behind grade level, so the team figured a short term intervention would give them the boost they needed. We also knew they would thrive in a 1:1 setting, and short-term interventions like this had helped them in the past.

The interventionist that worked with our grade level was all booked up, so this student went to the dyslexia researcher. After one session, she came into my classroom screaming (when my whole class was enjoying snack) that the kid couldn’t read at all. She was yelling and blaming me for being a lousy teacher by teaching balanced literacy in front of all of my students!

No teacher wants to hear they’re not doing a good job- especially in front of their whole class. We’re all doing the best with what we have. I was following our district curriculum, and there wasn’t anything else I could have done. What she was ranting about was super confusing to me, too, because they were reading Frog and Toad and loving them. They could decode at a level K and comprehend for the most part. Something happened when they tried an L, and they needed a bit more help. This student was reading Nate the Great and solving mystery after mystery how were they unable to read? What does that even mean? They were reading every single day with me.

What Was the Reading Intervention?

When she started working with them, she focused on teaching them phonics instead of doing the intervention that we had discussed as a team. During our class phonics lessons, they did reasonably well. I’m not sure what work they were doing with her because whenever I asked, she talked in circles and threw out names of programs. She would argue all the time that she was Orton Gillingham trained. I didn’t care about her training. I knew Orton Gillingham and had seen it work wonders with kids. I wanted to know what their intervention consisted of so that I could support that work in our classroom. I would try to ask more specific questions, but she would not break down the 30-minute lesson and explain what she was doing. It was beyond frustrating. 

How Can I Support This Child?

Soon, they had slipped back to a level J and then to a level I. One day I handed them our story during guided reading, and they declared that they couldn’t read books and gave the book back; they asked for a list of words. I didn’t understand what was going on. How could this kid who loved books suddenly refuse to read books? I had my literacy coach come in and observe because let’s be real- I was panicking. I needed to figure out what to do next. My literacy coach was also confused. She was their reading interventionist the year before and said she was shocked by some of the things she saw them doing. 

As I worked with my literacy coach to try to figure out what I could do to support this little diamond, she was also stumped. She asked what they were working on in intervention. I filled her in on all the strange conversations I had and that I didn’t know what was happening. She said that she’s sure dyslexia is underdiagnosed but is also confident that my whole class probably doesn’t have it. And even if this diamond does have dyslexia, this intervention isn’t working.

It Kept Getting Weirder

Even stranger things happened after this. The interventionist went into one of my colleague’s classrooms and took all the Mo Willems books declaring that students should read dumb stuff. She started trying to start rumors about our literacy coach, even coming and asking me if I was being treated ok by her. She went low and said that the lit coach’s daughter had dyslexia, and that’s why she was anti-dyslexia. Our lit coach wasn’t anti-dyslexia but got accused of a whole bunch because she was leading us in balanced literacy. She went into another room and told the teacher classroom libraries were dumb and unnecessary. She launched attack after attack on our literacy coach via Facebook posts. I unfriended her because I don’t want to be associated with teachers who attack each other on Facebook. More things happened, but you get the gist.

To be honest, I never understood why dyslexia and balanced literacy were at war. Why was she so anti our balanced literacy framework? The way I understood it was dyslexic students needed something different than what was provided in a balanced literacy framework. There are, of course, kids who need different teaching than the teaching happening in the classroom. Shouldn’t we accommodate them? 

More Than A Little Confused

As you can imagine, that experience left me more than a little bit confused about dyslexia. All I knew was a kid who was doing well in reading got an unofficial dyslexia diagnosis by a teacher who wasn’t the most stable, and then he got worse and worse as a reader. His reading level at the end of the year was lower than at the start of the year. 

Logically I knew that this was an odd case, and she wasn’t the greatest, but it was tough to get past all of her irrational and abrasive behavior. After this incident, I didn’t think about dyslexia for a long time. 

Phonics P.D.

Then, a few years ago my school (a different one than the school above) had professional development with the principal from a school that specializes in dyslexia. She talked a lot about the importance of phonics. We reviewed phonics rules and I met with her one on one to discuss the teaching of phonics. We had just switched to Fountas and Pinnell Phonics and it was the first time our school had a phonics/ word study program. We talked for a long time about what rules to teach kids and what rules not to teach, how to build in phonics support into the reading and writing workshop. If I could work for this principal I would. She was so knowledgable and I left her session with millions of ideas to pull into the classroom. It didn’t seem as though there was a huge disconnect from what I was doing in my classroom using balanced literacy and the phonics PD that I attended. They seemed to work in harmony which was the opposite of what I had always been told. 

Phonics is a Part of Balanced Literacy

I feel there is a misconception that phonics is not taught in a balanced literacy framework. That isn’t true (if things are happening correctly- I know sometimes they aren’t). Phonics is taught in part of the program, often referred to as word study. The way phonics is taught depends on what program or philosophy a school is following. I’ve used Fountas and Pinnell Phonics, which follows the workshop approach and teaches in on one specific phonics piece each lesson. I’ve also used Words Their Way and Word Journeys to teach phonics through sorting and making connections between other words. I would say the whole goal of word study in balanced literacy is for skills to transfer back into reading and writing. We might not teach all of the cute phonics rhymes we learned as kids. This is usually because the cute rhymes tie in with the exceptions, not the rules. Perhaps people behind the Science of Reading would like a more rigorous phonics component to balanced literacy. I’m not opposed to that, and I don’t think many are. We want to teach transferrable phonics skills to our kids as phonics knowledge is needed for decoding. 

M,S,V and the Science of Reading

Last year I led our school in learning Fountas and Pinnell’s Benchmark Assessment System, and part of that system is MSV. If you don’t know, MSV stands for Meaning, Structure, and Visual. These are considered the three cueing system readers use as they read. When readers encounter an unknown word and attempt to decode it, they ask: Does this make sense? Does this sound right? Does this look right? Often in a balanced literacy approach, more weight is placed on meaning than on phonics for the in the moment decoding while reading. 

While preparing for that training, I came across research that MSV wasn’t valid, and I read it. I knew that there were teachers extremely frustrated by B.A.S., and they would find this research. I also think it is good practice to read things that you disagree with. It furthers your reflection and your own ideas. What I found was fascinating. Researchers show that the English language is much more decodable than we’ve been led to believe. It is a topic that I would like to learn about more. I do notice that children who come into our schools from the British system are much, much better decoders but have limited comprehension skills.

I recently joined a Facebook group for teachers who support the Science of Reading. Currently, I’m disappointed I haven’t learned more from the group as it is right now focused on bashing balanced literacy programs and leaders and less focused on sharing information on the science of reading. Hopefully, I can begin to learn more from them as a teacher.

So, Am I Wrong?

It isn’t a good feeling to think that you’re wrong about your core beliefs on a topic, but it is a good time for reflection. Am I wrong? Should I stop using a balanced literacy approach and focus more on phonics? The Science of Reading people say yes. I don’t know, but I don’t think so at this moment. I want to learn more and strengthen my phonics instruction, and I don’t believe that kids in younger grades should just read decodable texts, BUT I do think decodables are beneficial for some readers. 

Could we include more decodable reading within the phonics portion of balanced literacy? What compromises could be made to support both? I don’t know but I am sure there are some.

This whole debate reminded me of a conversation we had with a literacy consultant at the start of the year. We were providing a scaffolded support tool that the majority of students actually didn’t need. We removed that support from the kids who didn’t need it and kept it for the kids who did need it. I feel like giving all kids decodables instead of the books they currently have would be similar. We would be putting up supports for all kids that they might not need. Dyslexia is underdiagnosed, and teachers need a lot more support and education in this area. I am sure that what works for dyslexic students will work for all students, but is it what’s best for them? I don’t know. I’m going to continue to research and listen to both sides of the argument. We’ll see what I discover. 

Additional Resources

The Science of Reading

Please know that if you’re using a balanced literacy approach some of these may be hard to read because of the teacher-bashing in them. I’m not about that. Couldn’t we have this debate without bashing teachers and name-calling? 

What is the Science of Reading?

Beyond the Reading Wars: How the Science of Reading Can Improve Literacy

The Science of Teaching Reading

The Science of Reading- A PowerPoint Presentation

Timothy Shanahan Blog

 

Balanced Literacy

I’m only including the responses from Lucy Calkins and Irene and Gay Su Pinnell because they’re the only responses I know of right now. If you know of additional responses please share them in the comments.

No One Gets To Own the Term “Science of Reading” -Lucy Calkins

A Word on Phonics with Fountas and Pinnell

Thoughts?

Let’s build a productive conversation around this topic in the comments below. 

What are your thoughts? What does your education and experience lead you to? 

Just a forewarning, any teacher-bashing comments will be deleted. That isn’t productive for either side. Try to figure out a way to phrase your comment in a way that doesn’t bash the teacher but teaches. 

Weekly Wisdom

Weekly Wisdom

Masterpieces & Works IN Progress

You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously. 

-Sophia Bush

Sometimes as teachers we don’t like to admit that we are works in progress. This Sophia Bush quote describes exactly what we are as teachers. We are both a masterpiece and also a work in progress. That’s what teaching is all about it. It’s about being a great teacher and looking to become even better at the same time. 

Our students are the same. They are both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously. That is what makes teaching such difficult and rewarding work. 

Don’t forget the value in being both a masterpiece and a work in progress!

How to Teach Abroad: Applying and Interviewing

How to Teach Abroad: Applying and Interviewing

How to Teach Abroad

Start the Process Early

Now that you’ve decided to teach internationally, you might be wondering how do I teach abroad? Where do I start? It’s time to apply for positions and interview with new schools. The process for applying and interviewing happens much earlier than it would in the US. You’ll find that not only is the timeline moved up the process will be slightly different as well. 

When I was applying to teach internationally the first time, I worked on my resume in September, and I asked my principal for a letter of recommendation in October. Yup, that’s right in October! I had the letter at the start of November and began applying shortly after. I accepted my new teaching position at the end of January. 

Agencies to work with

There are so many different recruiting agencies out there. I’ve worked with one agency the most so I’ll talk about them here. There are many different ones, so reach out and do some research to figure out which one will work best for you.  

ISS-Schrole

I have primarily worked with International School Services-Schrole. You have to sign up for an account, and I believe it is around $75 for a year’s membership. Remember, you’re going to have to invest money into your job search to yield results. Signing up for an account will get you access to hundreds of schools and positions. It will also allow you to attend any of their job fairs for free. Once you sign up for an account, you’ll need to create your profile. 

Personal Information: You’ll want to upload your CV, necessary information about yourself- date of birth, gender, country of birth, country of passport, languages you speak, contact information, emergency information, and marital status. Now, marital status might seem weird, but if you are a couple and are both teachers, you’ll apply to schools as a team. If you’re married and one partner is not a teacher, you might get asked some questions about what the other partner is planning on doing for work. You’ll also want to include a picture. 

Professional Information: After entering your personal information, you’ll need to enter your professional information- the university you attended, your degree and date of issue, a copy of your degree, your teaching license details, and a copy of your license. Then you’ll have to upload your work experience. Next, you’ll need to ask references to complete a secure online reference check. You will need to enter your reference’s first and last name, email address, phone number, organization, dates you worked with them, relationship, and position type. Once you click submit, an email is immediately sent. So, you’re going to want to send an email and ask before hitting send a request. 

After you complete your profile, you can browse so many positions all over the world! 

Additional Agencies

Here are a few agencies. There are many others out there that help people teach internationally. There are many more resources on how to teach abroad on their sites as well. Check them out! 

Search Associates

UNI

TIE

Do Your Research

Before I click to apply, I do some research. I feel like that is pretty standard for job searches. Right?

Location

First, where is the school located? Is this an area I can see myself living? Keep an open-mind here. I knew nothing about Poland before moving there, and I absolutely loved it! A lot of Americans are always worried about safety. I have honestly felt safer in Poland and Oman than I ever have in the US. If you’re concerned about safety, then do your research. It is so crucial that you can envision yourself living in this location for at least 2 years.

Website

The next thing I look at is the school’s website. Now I do know that a lousy school could have a great site, and a good school could have a terrible website, BUT if it looks like the school’s website was made in the early 2000s and forgotten about, I move on. I want to see current events on a website, social media accounts, a calendar of events, a welcome letter from administrations. If things don’t seem right, they probably aren’t. I highly encourage you to trust your gut instincts throughout this entire process.

Philosophy

After the website test, I check the guiding statements of the school. These should be easy to find on a school website. Does my teaching philosophy align with that of the school? If it doesn’t, I move along. Find a school that is a good fit for you. 

Check International Schools Review

I don’t even know how up to date this website is kept. I was told to check this site by teachers who had been in the international teaching game for a long time. I did read reviews for my past school, and I would say they were reasonably accurate. Here teachers can evaluate their schools and their administrators. I checked it, and I considered that most people who leave reviews are usually slightly disgruntled, I read what was there and moved on. There’s always a hint of truth in every review, but I didn’t review my last school, and I was happy there. Most people who leave reviews are leaving and want to share why. I don’t even think I read the reviews for my current school. If you wish to subscribe and check reviews, do it. 

Package

Sometimes, you can get information about the benefits package before applying. You can see a salary range and know what is included and what is not included. Any information you can find on this topic is helpful before you apply. Sometimes there isn’t any information on this prior to applying.

What Are They Looking For?

When international (and I assume most other) schools are hiring, they want to know you are a great teacher, but they also want to see if you’re cut out for the international teaching life. Read this post about choosing to teach internationally. Schools want to make sure that you aren’t going to fall apart and run home at the first sign of trouble. Once I applied at a school that asked how I dealt with loneliness and isolation on their application. I’ve also had some interviews focus on who I am as a person, not a teacher. International teaching is a different game.

Here are a few topics/questions that I have been asked, or my friends have been asked.

-Have you lived away from your family before?

-Do you have hobbies outside of teaching? I find that having a life outside of teaching is a high priority in the international teaching community. International teachers live vibrant lives outside of their teaching lives.

-Can you continue these hobbies here?

-Do you have previous international school experience?

-What is your relationship status?

-Do you speak another language?

-How do you deal with new situations?

-How do you deal with homesickness?

-What have you learned from teaching internationally that you wouldn’t have learned if you stayed in the US? 

 

This is a very basic list of questions but hopefully, you get the gist a bit better. If you have international teaching experience leave some additional interview questions in the comments. I’ve only gone through interviewing twice so I’m still quite new with this section. 

The Process

Here is how I applied to schools. Some people attend a job fair, and that process looks totally different. If you’ve participated in a job fair before, please leave a bit of insight into the process below!

  1. I searched open positions on ISS
  2. I researched schools and decided which ones I would apply to and which ones I would pass up
  3. I checked ISS to see if I applied through the ISS website or if I applied on the school’s website
  4. I wrote a cover letter and answered all the questions asked in a thoughtful way
  5. Sometimes nothing happens next. Other times you get an email asking for an interview. And sometimes schools reach out to you and ask to interview you without applying 
  6. Do your research again and jot down important questions and information to bring up in the interview. Remember, interviews might happen at weird times due to time differences
  7.  Interview- probably via Skype
  8. Sometimes nothing happens, and at times you get a second interview
  9. Interview again sometimes with a teacher and the principal but usually with a director or other administrators
  10. Sometimes nothing happens, and then sometimes you get offered a position
  11. Read the contract, have a friend read it. If something seems off to ask about it
  12. Take the job and sign your contract or say thank you for the opportunity and continue your search

Ask Questions

Remember, you are also interviewing the school. You need to have questions prepared, and the questions you ask an international school might be slightly different than the questions you ask a school in your home country.

Here are some possible questions to ask:

  • Who is responsible for getting your visa? Does it happen before you arrive or after? 
  • How do you get there? Does the school pay? Do you pay and get reimbursed? 
  • When do you need to arrive?
  • Does the school provide or assist with finding a place to live?
  • Is there are realtor fee if they set you up with a realtor?
  • When do you get paid the first time? 
  • When does your health insurance begin? What does it cover?
  • Is there a shipping allowance? Is it a lump sum, or do you get reimbursed?
  • What teacher materials are available in the country? What might you want to bring?
  • What supplies are in the classroom? What do most teachers bring?
  • Will they connect you with a teacher mentor?
  • How do they help with the transition? 
  • What is daily life like in ______?

Accepting an Offer

Before you accept an offer, read the contract again and again. Question things that don’t seem right. I had to choose my health insurance based on three options in my first year teaching internationally. Another option was to get a gym membership, but you had to opt-out of insurance to get that option. I asked which one most teachers choose and went with that plan. It turns out I didn’t have health insurance for most of my first year! Choosing your health insurance from three very different plans does seem odd in retrospect. Ask questions about the parts of your contract that you don’t understand.


Only accept an offer if you plan to follow through on it. Accepting an offer as a placeholder for a better offer isn’t very respectable in the international world. Schools go through quite a process to recruit teachers, and having to start all over because you got a better offer leaves schools in a tough place.

 

Congratulations! You are off on an unforgettable adventure! You’re now ready to pack to move to a new country! 

Friday Five: Back to School After Winter Break

Friday Five: Back to School After Winter Break

Going back to school after winter break can be ROUGH! We’ve all been there. Transitioning back into the new year can be tricky. The kids are still in vacation mode, and you might be too. Here are five tips to help reign it in and get back to business after a long break.

Getting Back to School After winter Break

One

Catch Up With Each Other

You just had a break! Take a minute to catch up and share all about your holidays. As an international teacher, students often travel to different countries and places over breaks. We usually get out the map and look where everyone went on holiday. This is a lot of fun. Kids also share what I call smiles and frowns. Smiles are those significant parts of vacation and frowns the not so great part. 


After a break ease back in and take a moment to check in as a community. Maybe that doesn’t look like getting down the map. Maybe it looks like enjoying a cup of hot chocolate or tea and talking about the best parts of our break. Maybe it means taking a moment to write a story about the break. Any way you do it is great. Isn’t the best part of coming back to school after a break catching up with your teacher friends? Let your kids enjoy that too.

Two

Get Back Into Routines

Routines are like the glue that holds all the learning together. I like to remind students of expectations and keep them to it after a break. We usually spend the first weeks back after break reviewing our routines and practicing them. Don’t wait too long to get back into them, or it might feel like you never will. Remember that time spent reviewing routines now will save you time later. Make sure you’ve all got your routines back down before diving too far into learning.

Three

Have some Fun

Joy and laughter are so important in the classroom. Don’t forget while reviewing those routines and diving back into content to take some time for fun. Fun can be anything! Maybe it’s a fun hidden picture, and perhaps it’s an extra Go Noodle video, maybe it’s playing four corners. Just make sure that there’s some fun and laughter in your classroom during your first days back as a teacher.

FOur

Take Time For Yourself

Don’t burn yourself out! Hopefully, you took the vacay to live your non-teacher life. So now, don’t spend the first weeks back living at school. Utilize those prep times and try not to stay too late. Take time to invest in your life outside of school as well. The more you invest in yourself as a person, the better you are as a teacher. Trust me.

Five

Give Yourself Grace

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything worked out perfectly after a holiday? Yeah, I can dream about that world, but realistically it doesn’t. Give yourself grace. Take that time away from yourself. Look into using Calm or another meditation app for those moments when things are too much. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done a quick emergency calm session when the kids went to specials. Remember, you’ll get there. You will get back into learning and all of the routines that make your classroom a beautiful place. Rome wasn’t built in a day. 

How do you like to set your self up for success after a break? 

Parent Communication Log with Google

Parent Communication Log with Google

Parent Communication Log- I NEED IT TO BE EASY

Using Google Forms as a parent communication log is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. It is so easy and super helpful! 

A few years ago, I was about halfway through the year when I realized that I wasn’t keeping logging any of my parent communication! Eeek! It wasn’t that I wasn’t communicating with parents. I wasn’t making any record of it. I tried to jot down a sticky note and put it in a file, but it wasn’t working. It wasn’t easy enough for me, and all those crumpled notes in a file folder weren’t helpful. Then GDPR rolled around and writing random notes and shoving them somewhere wasn’t going to work. I had to digitize my communication log. Luckily this worked in my favor, and I was able to keep track of parent conversations much more convenient. 

Hooray for Google Forms!

I made a Google Form and then pinned it in Chrome right next to my Gmail. Any time I had a conversation with a parent, I simply logged it on the form. I was able to easily keep track of who I had talked to and what I had discussed.

BONUS! When I used Google Forms for my parent communication log I was able to more easily look at and analyze my data due to how the form presents it. This was revolutionary. Here’s how I did it and the sort of data you can discover. Hopefully, this can help you too!

How to Create Your Own Form

  1. Open Google Drive
  2. Click the new button on the top left

3. Hover over more

4. Click Google Form (purple logo)

Name Your Form

Name your form and add a description if you would like. I named it Parent Communication 19-20 just to keep track. Usually, I keep the description blank because this is just for me. I don’t need a description of a parent communication log. I know what this form is all about. 

QUestion 1: Student Names

I like the first question on the form to be the student’s names. On the right choose dropdown. Enter student names. I make this question and most of the questions on the form required. Just in case I’m in a rush that will ensure I included all the necessary information. 

*I have obviously created a fake class for this and have chosen fake names for this fake class. 

Question 2: Date

The date is obviously helpful for tracking parent communication. Here you can keep track of when the conversations took place. Click date as the question type on the right. Again, I make this question required. 

Question 3: Method of Contact

Click checkboxes as the question type- every once in a while you’ll have multiple methods of contact. This allows you to select what you need. I also have an other option because you really never know what else you might need. Having that option available just makes things easier. 

Question 4: Reason for Contact

This one is so important and I struggled a bit with what categories it should be. I also add an other box to this one because sometimes the reason for contact doesn’t match any of the options. A few years ago I had an academic progress option but I felt that fell under academic. Choose what works for you. You might find that you are constantly typing in an option. If that’s the case, edit your form and add that option in. 

Here I chose multiple choice but it could also be beneficial to use checkboxes so that more than one option could be chosen.

Question 5: Initiated By

This wasn’t originally a question on the form but I soon realized I wanted to know who reached out to who. I chose multiple choice for this question and also added an other option. 

Question 6: Notes

Use the paragraph option this will allow you to type whatever you need to type in the box. This is the box where I type in all of the details of our conversation. What topics were discussed? What ideas were expressed by me and what ideas were expressed by the parents? This is really the reason you’re using a parent communication log so make sure to write all the details. 

Question 7: Follow Up

Sometimes this just says none and sometimes it lists out different things I need to do after the communication. This helps me keep track of the next steps. Sometimes I also schedule next steps into my Google Calendar just to help me stay on top of everything in the classroom. 

Analyze Your Data

Once you have your form set and enter the communication data you can see all your parent communication very clearly laid out. I am using the fake names and fake student data that I created for this blog post. (aka I just filled out the form by randomly clicking several a few times) 

Just peaking at this data what do you notice? What sticks out to you? 

Usually, in this section I notice that I’m communicating about one student at a far larger scale than the others. I reflect on this and make adjustments as needed.

I also notice that there are students who I’ve made no parent contact with or limited contact with. I reflect on that and also adjust as needed. 

It used to be that if you didn’t hear from me, everything is going well. That just isn’t the case anymore. We need to communicate with all parents and give them insights into their children’s learning. Of course, Seesaw opens up an amazing venue for parent communication but a quick email or phone call doesn’t hurt either. 

This one I find interesting. Emails typically win out and when I notice that I try to be more conscious of picking up the phone. Even though as an introvert I despise talking on the phone it is usually the best way to ensure your message is heard in the proper tone and with the proper delivery. 

I like to try to keep a balance between academics and social-emotional contact. Here you can see I made contact for social-emotional reasons far more than any other reason. Depending on the time of year you might make contact for one area more than other areas. Just keep in mind that we educate the whole child and therefore our parent communication should reflect that. 

Thoughts on Parent Communication Logs

Any questions or comments just leave them in the box below! I would love to hear how the form is working out for you and how you keep a parent communication log.