Communicating With Parents: Remind


I have found that the best form of communication with parents in my classroom has been the app called Remind


It is simple, easy and secure. This is especially important for me as most of my children are bused and I do not have the chance to communicate with parents before and after school like I have been able to do at previous schools.

Why?
Children in young grades have difficulty retaining what they have learned during the day. I personally have two have older children (16 & 13 years of age) and I had always wished I was able to have a glimpse into their day as they were horrible at communicating to me at the end of the school day. As a result, sharing our learning with parents is extremely important to me.

Forms of Communicating
Families can choose which way they want to receive the communication. They have the options of getting the app for their phone, receiving messages as texts or receiving them as emails. I currently have 96% of my parents participating. This is great considering there are always parents who choose not to read the mail from the school regardless of how it is sent home!


Quick & Efficient
When the day is done, I am able to send home "snap shots" of what we have learned and this allows for parents to have conversations with their kids about what they learned about. I am able to send home photos of work, provocations and presentations so that parents feel like they are a part of our classroom culture. This is a huge bonus for me.

Feedback From Parents
Many times parents have listened to the stories from their kids and wondered, "What do they mean?" or "What are they talking about?" Then, later that day they will open their app, read the message that we posted about and realize, "Wow! They did learn about ___ today!" and can take their previous conversation to the next level. 

Several parents have had their children move on to other grades and almost insisted that their new teacher get Remind to keep them in the loop about what is going on in their class. During parent/teacher interviews all the parents in our class state that they appreciate the communication. Several rave on a regular (weekly) basis that they love receiving the messages to encourage communication with their children. 

Safety
Like Twitter, it only allows for short communication, which is fast and convenient for me. It is exclusively controlled by me, except for parents leaving, so I have the reassurance of privacy. I have the choice to allow for conversations to flow. I personally have disabled this option as I respect my privacy for time with my family and choose to keep communication with parents limited at school.



Click here to read a blog post of how Remind can replace planners in your classroom!



Documentation
I always make sure to document all my communication with my parents. I have found that keeping a well documented tracking of all communication really helps prevent miscommunication with parents. Click here to see the communication log that I use in my classroom!



Have you ever used this program? What do you use as your main source of communicating with families?


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Beginning Our Growth Mindset Journey in Kindergarten


Half of teaching kindergarten children about growth mindset is teaching it in a child centred way. The other half is educating parents so they can support their students growth.


In our class, we actually don't use the term growth mindset very often but we are learning about it in our own, age appropriate way.


We began to talk to our students about mistakes. We've reiterated that mistakes help us learn and we all make mistakes. So we are all learning! One of our most popular sayings in our classroom is, "Mistakes makes our brains grow!" We use many different phrases that mean the same thing message.


Most recently, we have been using primary friendly posters to guide our thinking:







We use the following quotes to inspire students
Mistakes are beautiful.
They are needed in order to learn. Everyone learns when they make mistakes

I cannot do this... yet!
We've talked about how our mindset influences our thoughts. We can learn. We might not understand something now, but we will understand it eventually!

Believe in yourself!
Knowing that we can learn gives us a positive attitude. We can learn lots of things!

Simple, and child friendly. 
I was happily surprised when a small group of 6 girls gave our SERT (Special Education Resource Teacher) a tour of the classroom today. She sat down to play with the children and they decided to show of some of their reading skills around the room. They began by reading the "write the room" words they had posted around the room (this is a very popular activity in our classroom - see the link for where I get these activities from). Then they walked up to our new growth mindset posters. They read it to our SERT and then had a nice conversation with her letting her know what that meant. 

"Mistakes are beautiful!"
"Everybody learns and everyone makes mistakes. Even our teachers!"
"My mom makes mistakes. She is learning too!"
"I am learning when I don't understand something!"
"I am learning when I make mistakes!"

These are just a small sampling of their understanding, but extremely meaningful nonetheless. A very noteworthy moment in my teaching career, for sure!

Slowly but surely, they are coming up to me and my teaching partner throughout the day and acknowledging their struggles. It is getting more frequent that we hear, "This is hard! That means I am learning!"

Here are some other posters we have recently added and discussed with our students:


If you are interested in the posters that we use in our class click on the link below! There are many included in the bundle and we use them as a reference regularly throughout our day.

How do you share with your students the concepts of growth mindset? I would love to hear from you!




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Encouraging Unmotivated Kids to Clean


Want to know the secrets to a tidy classroom? 
What works in our classroom are Tidy Up King and Queen awards.

Our classroom consists of 33 Kindergarten children learning in a play based environment. Visiting a K class will give you a tiny *glimpse* into how much of a tornado can appear in just 20 minutes of learning. Despite this busyness in our Kindergarten classroom, we KNOW how much our students are learning when they are engaged and active. But how do you get your students to want to clean up?




Our Journey
We started the beginning of the year with supporting the students at the end of each learning block. We would model tidying up and verbally encourage/praise the students who helped out. Honestly, we were either directing or doing most of the work and our little JK's were doing more work than our SK students. It was frustrating.

Brainstorming After over half a year of this I decided to look through some of my older resources for a new "bag of tricks" and found an old pile of rewards. I had used these previously in Kindergarten but I had forgotten about them due to my journeys of teaching other grades and a Congregated ASD Behaviour class. At first we used Tidy Up King & Queen awards sporadically (now more commonly known as brag tags). To reward students we thought were working hard, helping others or who had taken the responsibility to clean up after themselves. It really didn't motivate them at all, except the kids who are always easily motivated.


Collaboration Then one day I sat down with another teacher and we started discussing mystery items. I tried it the next learning block. One item, one student, I wondered who it would be! Guess what? It worked like a charm! Our room was clean in 7 minutes (ahem, it used to take more like 10-12 minutes) AND we had a room full of motivated children wanting to help out.


Motivation To encourage the process, we will randomly call out, "I wonder who will win today?" or "The mystery item could still be out there! I wonder who will find it?" and the children start scrounging through the classroom to find the tiniest items so they can receive their reward. Many come up and show us exactly what they found, so we know what they have picked up.


Award Time!
When the room is clean, we come back to the carpet. Hand out the reward. The children give a cheer for the winner when they get their award. The winner often is beaming with pride as they take their award to their backpack to share with families. Some students even carry it around for a while, like a treasured prize. 

The Best Part?
1. Parental feedback. I find out all the time that there are "Walls of Fame" in our students houses with a collection of all the rewards that the children take home, posted for all to see. Parents tell me that the kids love to share what they had "found" that was the mystery item or share how they have received their other awards which they receive in our classroom. To be honest, these awards motivated me to make the these other awards and the children just soak them up!

2. This has worked so well that we no longer help the children clean up at all. We actually have time to deal with student needs and engage with the kids during a time that used to be very chaotic. Behaviour management at it's best!


What is your motivational tool for keeping your students motivated to clean? I'd love to learn what works for you! I hope you enjoyed reading about our journey!



End of Year Update!


We noticed that at the end of the year we had to switch things up a bit. Variety is the spice of life! We continued using the awards in June but used the "congratulations" awards instead of the "mystery item" awards. I would write all the names on the white board of students who were actively participating. If they noticed that they stopped helping their name would be erased. For every learning block, we would award the awards. Worked like a charm as it gave the children instant feedback and recognition for making good choices.


Interested in trying this out with no prep? Check these products out!










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