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 use it?

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.

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!
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.

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. 
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 on the image to see the communication log that I use in my classroom!

Have you ever used Remind? Did you like it? Hate it? 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.

The Beginning

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 as pictured below.


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). 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

Our class of 33 active students can make a tornado of a mess. We know it is worth it when kids are engaged, safe, active and learning.

The question is, how do you motivate kids to clean?

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 and 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.

Some years I often need to rethink my bag of tricks for behavior management. We started to use Tidy Up King & Queen brag tag awards. The kids loved it and we rewarded students who we saw working hard, helping others or had been responsible for their own mess!

Later we decided to switch up how we awarded students. 


Mystery Item

We picked a mystery item. 

It worked like a charm to get the class to clean up quicker than before. Hint: Never tell the kids it has been picked up or they stop working! ;)  

To motivate them I often will say, "I still see the mystery item. I wonder who will find it?" It works like a charm! As you can see in the picture below, I often have to photograph the student with the mystery item because they are so proud of finding it!


Multiple Winners

Want to hand out multiple at a time?  

This idea is perfect for instant recognition for appropriate behavior! We would write names of students participating on the board. If they stopped we would wipe their name off. Great instant feedback for students and they always look to see if their name is on the board! lol


When the room is clean, we come back to the carpet we handed out the reward(s). 

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 because it is a treasured prize for them. 

Parent Feedback

Has all been positive! Apparently, some of my students have a "wall of fame" where they collect the awards. The kids always tell mom and dad what the mystery item was or why they got their award and parents love being involved and knowing what is happening in the class!

We also help students less. This has allowed us to deal with behavior management and those trying to avoid cleaning instead of helping ourselves.

What is your tried and true motivation for student participation in cleaning up? I'd love to know what works for you!

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