All Posts By

Melissa Nikohl

  • The Only 3 Things New Teachers Need to Know

    Being a new teacher can be hard. All veteran teachers have been there! You'll find tons of tips for new teachers and some are good and some are unnecessary! As a new teacher you'll get tons of advice but there are only a few things you need to know before accepting a position! Are you a new teacher? Find out what you need to know now!! #newteachers #newteachertips #newteacheradvice

    Being a new teacher can be hard. All veteran teachers have been there! You'll find tons of tips for new teachers and some are good and some are unnecessary! As a new teacher you'll get tons of advice but there are only a few things you need to know before accepting a position! Are you a new teacher? Find out what you need to know now!! #newteachers #newteachertips #newteacheradvice

    As a new teacher, you’re going to get tons of advice. It will be hard to figure out what you should listen to and what you shouldn’t. In this post, I’m keeping it super simple, and sharing three easy tips that will help you survive your first year or two. Let’s get straight to it. 

    Don’t Take Work Home…Regularly

    It is tempting. I think most of us more experienced teachers have done it. Taking work home is something I would have done less of when I first started teaching. I was that teacher that took a bag full of work home. Papers to grade, lesson plans to create, and paperwork to complete. I’ve done it all!

    I felt so accomplished, and I felt like I was on top of it!. But, by November, I was exhausted. By March, I was utterly drained and didn’t know if teaching was for me. It was because I was always working. Even on the weekends, you could find me in my room getting stuff done. I’m not saying don’t do it, do it in moderation. Teaching can be crazy, so there will be times when you have to take work home, just don’t make it a habit. 

    Go Into Work Early Or Stay Late, Don’t Do Both

    Going into work early or staying after school, will help prevent you from taking work home. I am a morning person so; you can find me in my classroom bright and early. By the end of the day, I’m exhausted and ready to go home.

    If you’re not sure what works best for you, try them both out! Then, decide during which time do you get the most work done. Some of you may know that you’re not a morning person, so staying late might be your thing. 

    Remember, don’t do both!

    Back to School Guide for Teachers

    Be Patient

    You’re not going to be great at a lot of things your first year. Don’t compare yourself to the other new teacher down the hall or the veteran teacher next door. If you walk in the door having it all together, how can you possibly grow?

    The first couple of years will be hard. There’s no getting around it. You won’t know what you’re doing until year 4 or 5. Teaching is hard work. Some people enter it thinking that got it and soon realize that they don’t. It’s okay because, to become an excellent teacher, you have to make mistakes.

    Set goals and work on one thing at a time. By taking your time and learning things one by one you’ll retain information better and be more successful.

    I recommend you pick something that you’re interested in and learn everything you can about it so that you can become the campus expert. For example, at one point, I was really into technology integration. I attended a Google Education event, attended multiple technology training’s, became a Google Educator, and found different ways to implement technology in my classroom. Over time I became the go-to tech person on my campus. Once I found what I was really good at, it helped build my confidence, and made it easier to learn new things.

    Being a new teacher is going to be challenging. Just remember that your work is never done and you need to make sure you are making time for yourself. You will make plenty of mistakes, and you won’t be a rock-star teacher after your first year. You will be much better than you started if you’re patient and willing to learn from your mistakes. Don’t worry about being an expert. Each year you’ll grow and become a stronger educator. Be even more prepared for the new school year and grab my Free Back to School Guide. Remember, you’ve got this!

     

  • Tips on How Teachers Can Start Over At a New School

    Are you a veteran or experienced teacher starting a new school? Are you wondering how to prepare for the new school year as an experienced teacher? Grab these tips on how to start over at a new school! You are changing schools for a reason, make sure you're off to a great start. #teachertips #veteranteachers #backtoschoolforteachers

    Are you a veteran or experienced teacher starting a new school? Are you wondering how to prepare for the new school year as an experienced teacher? Grab these tips on how to start over at a new school! You are changing schools for a reason, make sure you're off to a great start. #teachertips #veteranteachers #backtoschoolforteachers

    If anybody knows about starting over at a new school, it’s me. When we leave one school to start another, it can be extremely stressful and exciting. What I like about starting over is that everyone is adjusting to a new school year. No school year is exactly the same, so in some way, everyone is starting over. When I think about it that way, I’m less nervous. If you are starting over at a new school this school year, this is your opportunity to make it your best school ever. Starting over is never easy, so I wanted to share some general tips that will help make the transition to a new school much easier!

    Learn Their Way

    I get you’re an experienced teacher, but when you go to someone’s house, you have to play by their rules. Yes, you would maybe do things differently, but you should not just yet. Respect, appreciate, and be okay that things are going to be different. You can’t walk in the door and try to change how your new school does things. In the beginning, you need to learn how to do it their way. I always like to see how one school/district does things differently than my last school. If you are moving to a better school/district, then you should learn a better way to get things done. Remember, you left your old school for a reason, be ready to learn!

    Be Friendly, But Not Too Friendly

    When we start a new school people want to get to know us, and we want to learn about them. This is perfectly fine, just remember to keep it professional. In general, my coworkers don’t know much about my personal life, and I don’t want them to. I have nothing to hide, I just like to keep my work life and personal life separate.

    With that being said, my coworkers still know me. They know I love 90’s music, yoga, traveling, and I like laughing a lot. There is a way where you can be friendly without letting them know your every move outside of the building. Be careful because we know there are those coworkers who will spread your business around to everyone. A red flag is if they tell you extremely personal things about themselves within the first month or so of meeting you. If they do this, trust me, they will tell everybody your business. Until you get the lay of the land, be friendly, but limit conversations about your personal life. Most importantly, if you don’t want it repeated, don’t say it.

    Back to School Guide for Teachers

    Be Confident, Not Cocky

    You got the job because your principal felt that you were the right person for the job. Just remember, you are new and have things that you need to learn. Be confident in your abilities, but don’t be cocky. Nobody likes a know it all. Don’t think that you know more than the teachers who have been at the school for years.

    When I start a new school, I like to show, not tell. I’m really good at differentiating work for my kiddos. Instead of telling everybody how good I am, I make sure that if someone comes into my room, they can quickly tell that my kiddos’ work is differentiated. You know you’re a great teacher, let your work be the messenger.

    Don’t Take on Too Many Roles

    I made this mistake this past school year. I was at a brand new school-district and teaching a new grade. I decided to start an afterschool club shortly after the school year started. In my head, it sounded like a great idea. But, it turned out to be a disaster. I was exhausted, and it wasn’t fun. I was soon dreading the days that I had the club because I just wanted to go home. Instead of spending some time preparing for the next day in the afternoon, I was coming in early to get stuff done. Eventually, I ended the club because it was too much. I should have gotten used to everything before adding more to my plate. I put way more stress on myself than I had to. Don’t be like me. Take it easy until you have everything figured out!

    Keep it Positive

    For most of us, we are making a choice to start over at a new school, so go into it with a positive mindset. Know that no school is perfect. Handle its imperfections with grace. If you see a problem, think of a solution, but don’t complain. You don’t want to be known as the new teacher with a bad attitude.

    The hardest part about coming into a new school is that you will be surrounded by people who don’t know how good they have it. They will complain, let them. Don’t get sucked in that pool of negativity. I have this issue every time I change schools. There are always those teachers that complain about everything. It is annoying. They don’t get how much energy it takes to fight off the negative vibe that they bring in the building daily. I had a teacher ask me one day, why was I so happy? It was 7 am ya’ll, I was so confused. Some of us will never understand those people who make a choice to be in a bad mood. Stay strong and keep it positive.

    Changing schools can be stressful at first. Be willing to learn the ropes, show your administration why they hired you, don’t take on too many roles, and stay positive. You will shine this school year if you work hard and have an open mind. Check out my FREE Back to School Guide to get prepared for this brand new year! Let me know how you adjust to a new school in the comments below!

  • 4 Reasons Why All Elementary Reading Teachers Should Use Raz-Kids

    Are you using Raz-Kids in your classroom? Did you know it is an easy way to differentiate your reading block? Learn why all elementary teachers should use Raz-Kids in their classrooms today! #razkids #differentiation #differentiatedcenters #teachertips #teacherresources

    Are you using Raz-Kids in your classroom? Did you know it is an easy way to differentiate your reading block? Learn why all elementary teachers should use Raz-Kids in their classrooms today! #razkids #differentiation #differentiatedcenters #teachertips #teacherresources

    What if I told you there was an easy way to do running records every two weeks? What if I told you there’s a tool that can help you document student progress? Are you looking for a simple way to differentiate your centers? Do you want to make sure your students are reading books at home that will help them grow?

    Guys, there is one resource that does it all. Raz-Kids. We have all used those printable books from Reading A-Z, but have you tried their digital product? I first found out about Raz-Kids from another teacher, and once I activated my free trial, I was hooked. Then I was shocked that more teachers weren’t using it. My district did not have the program, so I bought it. Currently, you can purchase it for $110. I know it sounds pricey, but tally up how much stuff you buy from TPT every year that you only use once? Think about the pizza, snacks, and rewards you purchase? We can easily spend $110. Buying a Raz-Kids license was hands down the best purchase I made the whole school year. I used it every day, the entire school year, and my students loved it!!! Luckily my new district has a license for Raz-Kids, but if they ever decide to get rid of it, I definitely will purchase it on my own. It is seriously that good. Check out the reasons why you should start using Raz-Kids now!

    It is an Easy Way to Do Running Records

    Raise your hand if you enjoy doing running records? I imagine nobody raised their hands. Who has time to stop small group or guided reading to test students? I know I don’t. A lot of us know when our students are making progress and know when it is time to move them up levels, but a lot of schools want documentation. 

    With Raz-Kids, all you have to do is assign them a running record, and the kiddos can complete it on their own. Each student has an account, and when they sign in, their running record is waiting for them. Once the kiddo clicks to complete the assessment, it starts recording. The student reads the passage out loud while it records what they say. Once the kiddo is done, it will ask them to summarize the story while it records their response. Lastly, they’ll answer a few questions that will check their comprehension of the story. Once the student hits done, their work gets sent to you. 

    Now you have their running record! You can check it when you have time. I listen to their running records during my conference time. They have an app you can download on your phone, so you can grade their running record anywhere.

    It is an Easy Way to Document Student Progress

    Not only does Raz-Kids have running records, but it also has digital books. When you first use the website, you will assign your students their reading level and books. Each leveled book has comprehension questions that the students will complete after reading. When they submit their quiz, the results get sent to you, and it breaks down the questions by concepts.

    Maybe Karen got all the inference questions wrong but, missed main idea. So, you can see how they’re doing and what they need more practice on. The program will flag students and let you know if they’ve missed a lot of a concept so that you know they need more practice.

    I like this feature because it’s another for me to see if a student is getting better on specific skills. The results of the quizzes and running records can all be printed off to document student progress.

    It is An Easy Way to Differentiate Instruction

    We are continuously told that we need to make sure we are differentiating instruction and centers. Raz-Kids makes differentiation a breeze. Since each kiddo is assigned their own reading level, they are getting books just for them. Depending on their reading level, the website gives them different tasks.

    Students who are reading at a kindergarten to 4th-grade reading level will have three things they do with their book. They have to read their books twice. During the first read, the program reads the book to the kids. The second read the student does alone, and lastly, the kiddos complete the comprehension quiz. The students who are reading at a higher level don’t get their books read to them. They read their book independently and complete the quiz. Also, their books are significantly longer.

    It is an Easy Way to Grow Students

    Since Raz-Kids makes it easy to give each student what they need, they will grow! Especially your struggling students. Parents of my struggling kiddos always ask me what can they do at home, and I tell them to log in to Raz-Kids. If they log on at home, they are getting more differentiated practice. My students that use Raz-Kids at home grow much faster than those that don’t. 

    A few years ago, I had a third grader who was reading at a first-grade level. They used Raz-Kids at home, and by the end of the year, she was reading on a third-grade reading level. If you use Raz-Kids consistently, your students will grow! The students who are on level or higher get an opportunity to get pushed further too.

    As a reading teacher, this is hands down my favorite supplemental resource to use. You can meet the needs of all of your students by just using this website. Hopefully, your district or school has a license for Raz-Kids. If they don’t, I promise it is worth the purchase. This has made my teaching life so much easier, I don’t have to stop instruction to do running records anymore. My kids are engaged and are getting exactly what they need to help them grow. Most of all, I can still make sure they are getting differentiated instruction when they go home. Has anyone else fallen in love with this website? Let me know in the comments below

  • How to Grow Students in a Low Performing School

    Student growth is possible with all students. Even at campuses that are struggling. Find out how to help students grow at a school that isn't doing so well. Remember, all students can learn. #studentgrowth #differentiation

    Student growth is possible with all students. Even at campuses that are struggling. Find out how to help students grow at a school that isn't doing so well.  Remember, all students can learn.   #studentgrowth #differentiation

    All students deserve a quality education. If you work at a low performing school, then you know how hard it is to get your kids where they need to be. Low performing schools are under more pressure than any other schools. A lot of time, they expect you to work a miracle without the resources you need. To turn a low performing school to a high performing school, you have to focus on other things besides test scores. We know that we are held accountable for our students through test scores, but to get the scores you want you have to focus on some key things first. Although it is a challenge, it is possible. Here’s how.

    Build Relationships First

    I know you’ve heard this a million times before, but it is true, you have to gain your students’ trust and respect before they will work hard for you. They’ll give you more effort if they know you care about them. Children are the most intuitive humans walking around Earth, so they can tell if you really care about them. I suggest you use some of your instructional time to get to know your students.

    In the mornings we do something called Good Things. During Good Things, we go around the room and share something good. The only rule is it has to be something good! At first, it is a struggle to get them to share something personal. But, after a few weeks, they’ll tell you and the class all about their soccer game, the book they’re reading, or what they did over the weekend. My kiddos love Good Things! I mean, who doesn’t like talking about themselves? My shier students usually pass during Good Things, but when I talk to them during small group, they open right up.

    Just don’t build relationships with your students or kiddos in your grade level, get to know students across the campus. Doing this will make it easier to bond with those kiddos if they ever become your students! This is something I do, especially with the grade level directly below me. Trust me, this works! Build relationships now!

    Meet Them Where They Are

    In a dream world, all of your students would be on grade level. But, the reality is you have kids on various levels and many of them are not where they should be. It is what it is. 

    Instead of using your energy to complain, develop a plan to grow your kiddos. I think sometimes we can focus so much on where they should be, we don’t focus on where they are. If you meet them where they are, they will grow much faster than if you try to make them get ahead without the background knowledge they need. Focus on making small gains because small gains will lead to tremendous growth. Student growth is what turns schools around. 

    Set Goals

    When you meet them where they are, you can then set goals to get them where they should be. Goal setting is so important. This gives the kiddos an idea of how hard they need to work during the year. In my experience, when students know their goals they put more effort in class.

    For goal setting to work, we can’t just talk about their goals at the beginning, middle, and end of the year. We have to discuss them regularly for them to be more meaningful. That is something I’m definitely working on this school year.

    Have High Standards

    Just because several of your students are at a first-grade reading level in third grade, does not mean you can just give them packets. Hold all of your kiddos accountable. Your lowest students have the most potential to grow if you give them what they need. They should be the students making the most gains. If you don’t push them, they won’t reach their potential.

    Encourage Them

    Every year I have students that don’t meet their goals. Or always bomb district tests. No matter what I still encourage them.If they got a 50% on one test but a 63% on next one, that is a win! Celebrate their gains!

     I like to give my kiddos notes throughout the school year to encourage them. Your students that struggle the most are the ones that need the most motivation.They know they’re behind and they need people around them who will encourage them to keep going.  Find a way to let your kiddos know that you believe in them.

    Your students can and will grow. You just have to be persistent and consistent in your efforts. On the day that you think what you’re doing is pointless is the day that one kiddo is going to get it and motivate you to do more. You have to believe in yourself and your students if you want them to grow to their fullest potential.

  • Back to School Tips for Veteran Teachers

    Veteran teachers have different needs at the beginning of the school year. Check out how you can be prepared for the upcoming school year! #backtoschool #veteranteachers

    Veteran teachers have different needs at the beginning of the school year. Check out how you can be prepared for the upcoming school year! #backtoschool #veteranteachers

    Being a veteran teacher is an accomplishment. We’ve put in many years of helping children learn. We have changed the lives of so many kiddos. But, we need to remember that we can still learn and grow as an educator. We can’t become that teacher who thinks they know it all and are closed off to learning new ways to help our kiddos. We should treat each school year differently. In some way, each year should be better than the last. Here are some ways we can get ready for the school year.

    Be Open to New Ideas

    Guys, we don’t know everything. Being a veteran teacher means we’ve learned a lot of techniques, methods, and strategies. A lot of times we hold on to what we like or is the easiest to do. We shouldn’t do something that worked well a few years ago, but now you’re no longer getting results. We can’t hold on to old ways that don’t benefit our kiddos. So, if your school or other teachers have a new way of doing something, try it! If your school is investing in a program, there is usually research or data that shows that it works. We know that sometimes new ideas don’t work, but we have to be open to try them first.

    Try Something New

    Do something this school year you’ve never done before. Maybe you can try using a communication app or create a Google Classroom account. We frequently ask our kiddos to try new things and we have to do the same. This upcoming school year, I am going to read a picture book to my students daily. While for many of you this is something you do regularly, I have never read a book to my kiddos every day. Testing has always been a priority in the upper elementary grades, and we tend not to do traditional things that work. I hope that by reading a book to them daily, they will learn the skills they need to be successful on the state exam. What will you try this school year?

    Back to School Guide for Teachers

    Have a Positive Attitude

    After teaching for a while, some of us have a negative attitude. Sometimes we complain too much, or we crack one too many snarky jokes. It is okay to have a bad day or two, but we need to be mindful that we aren’t always complaining about how things use to or should be. In case you didn’t know, nobody likes being around people who are negative all the time. If you can’t change what you don’t like about your job or your school, maybe it is time to move on, and that is okay!

    Set Goals

    Setting new goals each school year should be something every teacher does. Especially us vets! Since we don’t have to spend time learning the basics, we have more time to think about the school year and what we want to accomplish. This means we can be more intentional with what we want for the school year. Take a look at your kiddo’s data and make goals based on the information you see. Create a plan on how you want to attack the school year so you can get the best results.

    Although we are all going to miss summer, there is nothing like getting ready for the new school year. No matter if this is your 5th or 10th year teaching, you can still become a stronger educator. Be open to change this year!

     

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  • How Teachers Can Stay Healthy This School Year

    How Teachers Can Stay Healthy This School Year

    How Teachers Can Stay Healthy This School Year

    As a teacher, your health has to be a priority. You cannot be the best educator for your students if you’re in poor health. When I think about being healthy, I think of being healthy mentally and physically. There are so many ways to help keep yourself healthy, but these are my top favorites.

    Take at Least Two Mental Health Days Each School Year

    Some teachers take a lot of days off from work, and then there are the ones who are always at work. I am that teacher who rarely takes a day off. When I first started teaching, I thought because we have so many breaks built in our schedule, I didn’t need to take days off. The longer I’ve taught, the more I understand the importance of a mental health day. Your mental health is just as crucial as your physical health. My first year teaching, I only took off for my grandmother’s funeral. I would be at work every day, I was miserable and having breakdowns. At first, taking a day off was a hard thing to do.   The first year I took one and the next year I took three. I now take three days every year. Taking mental health days will keep you mentally and emotionally healthy. If you are drained, there’s no way you’re going to deliver quality instruction. For your own sanity take at least two mental health days each school year

    Take Vitamin C Daily

    Kids are gross. They can’t help it, they just are. They don’t like washing their hands, some refuse to cover their mouth while coughing, others will sneeze without covering their mouths, and you’re sitting at your kidney table watching the germs fly. Vitamin C supplements are life-saving. My preference is AIrborne. If you know me personally you know, I swear by Airborne. It has helped prevent so many colds and if I do get sick, I get better in a flash. When my kiddos start getting sick, I start taking a couple of  Airborne a day. Taking Vitamin C regularly will prevent you from catching that cold that is going around the school.

    Back to School Guide for Teachers

    Disinfect The Classroom Every Two Weeks

    I know some of you are thinking, that’s not my job. Some teachers look at me crazy when I’m in my classroom wiping down desk and doorknobs, but I swear this is what keeps me and my kiddos healthier. Every custodian I know works hard to keep the school clean, but they can’t do everything. And this is where we should step in to help them, ourselves, and our kiddos. Some districts have restrictions on the chemicals we can use so be mindful and do it after school so your room can air out.

    Exercise At Least Three Days a Week

    For some of us, working out is the last thing we want to do when we go home. But, working out is good for your mental and physical health. You don’t have to do CrossFit 5 days a week. Simply walking a few days a week has health benefits too! I enjoy walking, running, and yoga. I don’t want to be an athlete, I just want to be in good enough shape where I can run a few miles without stopping and walk up the three flights of stairs to my apartment without running out of breath.

    Ladies and gents! Our health should be our priority. Mental and physical. Don’t feel bad for taking a few days off, we’ve earned all of them! When more than two of your kiddos are sick, start popping an extra vitamin C, preferably Airborne. If you care about your health and the people close to you, disinfect your classroom regularly. If your kiddos are getting sick, there is a high probability you will too, cleaning commonly touched areas will help a lot. And don’t forget to find a way to move your body at least three days a week. We have to take care of ourselves, our health is all we have. Don’t forget to grab your free Back to School Guide for Teachers. This guide will make sure you’re prepared for the new school year!

  • 3 Ways Teachers Can Prepare For the New School Year

    We love decorating our classrooms and searching on Pinterest for new ideas. But in order to have a successful school year, it's important that we do more! Here are 3 ways teachers should prepare for the new school year.#backtoschool #teachertips

    We love decorating our classrooms and searching on Pinterest for new ideas.  But in order to have a successful school year, it's important that we do more!  Here are 3 ways teachers should prepare for the new school year.#backtoschool #teachertips

     

    I think teachers favorite time of the year is the beginning of the school year. We’re all well rested, motivated, and ready to go! We spend our last summer days hitting Target’s Dollar Spot or rolling down the aisles of Dollar Tree. We spend hours on Pinterest looking for ways to decorate our classrooms. But how many of us stop and reflect on the previous school year? I use to get so caught up in the newness of the school year I didn’t analyze what went well and what needed improvement. Honestly, I would forget what I did and started from scratch each year. If slow down to stop and think about how we can make this school year better, we will have a much more successful school year. Here are three simple ways you can get ready for this school year.

    Think About What Went Well Last School Year And What Did Not

    At the beginning of the school year, I like to stop and think about my strengths and weaknesses. If I did something that worked really well last school year, I make sure I do it again this year. If something didn’t work as well as I thought it should have, I’d see how I can tweak it to make it better or not do it at all. What did you do that helped your kiddos grow? What did you do that didn’t improve their growth. How can you fix a routine to make it more effective? Answer these questions to help you work smarter this school year!

    Pick One Thing to Focus on This School Year

    This school year, I want to increase my parent communication. Last year I started a new district, school, and grade level, so, my focus was just surviving. Now that I have it mostly figured out (lol), I want to make sure my parent communication is top notch. Now it’s your turn, think about something you can improve this school year. If you’re having trouble thinking of something off the top of your head, take a look at your summative evaluation and see where you scored the lowest. Working on your weaknesses will not only make you a stronger teacher, but it will also make you look good to your administration. You’re using their feedback to make improvements, and they will love that!

    After Analyzing the Previous School Year, Let it Go

    After you analyze what went well and what did not go well last year, let it go. Even if it was the best school year you ever had, let it go. It is a brand new year, and you shouldn’t expect to have the same year as you did before. Holding on to the previous year can lead to frustration, especially if your new class isn’t as high as your last class. Or you can begin the school year defeated because you had the lowest test scores in your grade level last year. By not letting go of the previous school year, you could be starting the school year off with negative vibes. Let it all go. This is the one thing I love about teaching. No school year is the same, and you always have an opportunity to start over.

    We spend most of our first weeks back at school decorating, in meetings, anxiously waiting for a class list, but rarely do we spend time getting mentally prepared for the school year. Being reflective about the last school year will help you have an even better school year than the one before. Focusing on one area improvement will help you become an expert! Letting go of the previous school year will help you leave behind useless expectations and bad memories, making space for your new kiddos. This school year will be your best yet. To ensure you have the best school year grab my Free Back to School Guide! This guide has everything you need to make sure you’re ready to start the school year strong. 

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    HOW TEACHERS CAN STAY HEALTHY THIS SCHOOL YEAR

    BACK TO SCHOOL TIPS FOR VETERAN TEACHERS

     
     
  • 5 Ways Teachers Should Use a Parent Communication App This School Year

    5 Ways Teachers Can Use A Communication App This School Year

     

    5 Ways Teachers Can Use A Communication App This School Year

    Every year I hear teachers complain about the lack of parent involvement. But what are we doing individually to make it better? Complaining about it has gotten us nowhere! One of my favorite ways make parent involvement better is by using a communication app. There are a few out there, but my favorite is Class Dojo. Using a parent communication app is an easy way to get your parents engaged and an easy way to document that you are reaching out to parents. There are many things you can share with your parents when you use an app, here are my favorite things to post.

    Update 9/10/2020: I’m using Seesaw this year and I love it!

    Show What You’re Doing In Class

    As I mentioned, my favorite app is Class Dojo. They have a stories feature that looks similar to Instagram. I usually snap pictures my anchor charts or the words of the week to let parents know what we are working on. One year, I did a multiplication contest and posted weekly who won. If you’re working on a really cool project in class post it! I didn’t know how much my parents like seeing what was going in our class  until I got swamped at work and forgot to post for a few weeks! They began reaching out to me see what was going on in class!

    Give Parents Tips On How to Help at Home

    When I taught third grade, kiddos learning their multiplication facts was a big deal. On the app, I would post reminders to make sure the kiddos practiced their facts and how to help them practice at home. When I gave out new words for the week, I would show the parents different ways that students could practice memorizing their spelling words. Or I would tell parents to make sure students log in to educational websites you use in class. Whatever you do, keep it simple for yourself and the parents.

     

    Speaking with parents about their children can be intimidating. But, we all know that when teachers and parents work together, the students are more successful. This cheat sheet will help you build relationships and increase students' growth. You won't have any issues regularly communicating with parents! Grab your cheat sheet and increase parent engagement this school year!

    Keep Parents Updated On Important Events

    As I mentioned before, we know that somehow notes don’t get home. So, take pictures of important notes like field trip permission letters. Let them know that report cards are going home. Sometimes parents don’t show up to events because they never got the note that went home!  This is a super easy way to keep your parents in the loop!

    Keep Parents Updated With Their Kiddo’s Progress

    Did your kiddo make a 60% on last week’s spelling test, but made 80% on this weeks? Snap a picture and send it to their parents with a private message. Just like those notes, student work that we grade gets lost between school and home. Taking a quick pic will keep parents in the loop.

    If you reached out to a parent yesterday about a problem you were having with their kiddo, let the parent know the next day that their kiddo’s day was better. Make sure you balance out good and bad days for students who have trouble behaving. One way to get parents not to use the app is if you are always talking to them about negative things. Make sure you keep it balanced.

    Take Pictures of Important Events

    A lot of parents can’t make award ceremonies, make them feel like they were there by taking pictures. For all my kiddos whose parents can’t make the ceremony, I take a picture of them with their award. The parents who are stuck at work because they couldn’t afford to take off will so appreciate this from you! I know if I were a parent I would like to see pictures of my kiddo’s accomplishments. Check with your district’s and school’s policy about taking pictures of students first. 

    If you aren’t using a communication app to reach out to your parents, what are you doing?  Pick an app and start using it consistently.  These apps make it super easy to contact parents and get parents involved. If you need more ideas about what to share on the app, download the Free Parent Communication App Cheat Sheet. The Cheat Sheet gives you over 20 ideas on what to post. Grab it now!

     
     

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  • 3 Reasons Why Teachers Should Use a Parent Communication App This School Year

    3 Reasons Why Teachers Should Use A Parent Communication App

    Teachers, do you use a communication app for your parent communication? Do you want more parent involvement? Find out how apps like; Class Dojo, Remind, SeeSaw, and Class Tag can improve your parent involvement! #parentinvolvement #Parentcommunicationapp #parentcommunication #classdojo #seesaw #remind #classtag

    Years ago I made the mistake of giving one of my parents my phone number. It was going well at first, I was able to talk to the parent when their kiddo was having issues or let them know when they were having a great day. It all went wrong when I got a call on the weekend from the parent who wanted to talk about their kiddo’s progress. I didn’t answer. I thought we had an unspoken rule that they wouldn’t use my number on my days off. Unfortunately, I did not learn my lesson. I gave it out again the next year and got another call on the weekend. After that, I changed my number and vowed to never give it out to parent again. I did some research and found out about communication apps just for teachers, and I have been hooked ever since.

    I know there many teachers who only want to communicate with parents from a school phone or email, but in my opinion, it is an ineffective and impersonal way to communicate and build relationships with your parents. Here are three reasons why you should use a communication app this school year.

    Quick & Convenient Parent Contact

    One thing I love about using an app is that I can reach out to parents quickly. I can literally send a text while my students are getting in their centers. No longer do I have to stop class to make a phone call about Little Johnny’s behavior. I don’t have to worry about calling a parent only to find out their voicemail is full. I just send a text, and they get my message.

    An Easy Way to Document Parent Communication

    Some of us work at schools that require us to prove we communicate with our parents. The communication apps that I have used (Remind and Class Dojo) both allow you to login using the computer. When you log in you can print off whatever you need.

    Then there are some of us that have difficult parents, and using the app can prevent any he said she said conversations. Everything is in black and white. Both Remind and Class Dojo have a feature that shows when parents view your message. This feature has gotten me out of the hot seat when parents complain to the principal that I haven’t told them about something that happened at school. These apps have been a lifesaver, especially when dealing with difficult parents.

    Speaking with parents about their children can be intimidating. But, we all know that when teachers and parents work together, the students are more successful. This cheat sheet will help you build relationships and increase students' growth. You won't have any issues regularly communicating with parents! Grab your cheat sheet and increase parent engagement this school year!

     

    Increased Parent Involvement

    If you work in a low-income area, you hear teachers complaining all the time about the lack of parent involvement. When I first started teaching, I thought that the parents didn’t care. I was so wrong. What I have found out over the years is that many parents want to be more involved but, they may not have time or know what to do.

    A communication app is an easy way to keep parents in the loop of what their kiddos are doing while they are at work. You can let them know what standards you are covering in class. Snap a pic of an anchor chart or a class project and boom! They feel like they’re in the know.

    We’ve all heard about the studies and research that indicates that the more that parents are involved in their education, the better they perform. If you communicate regularly about what you are teaching in class, some parents will make sure they are working on it at home. If you make it easy for your parents to know how they can help at home, they will. If your students are working on school stuff at home, of course, they will do better in school.

    Many of you know the benefits of using an app like Class Dojo or Remind, so you know it is life changing! Parent communication is something I think most teachers dread. Using an app makes it an easy and convenient way to talk to your parents regularly. Download one now and get started! If you already use an app let me know which one you use and what you love about it! I’m all about trying something new! Don’t forget to grab your copy of the Free Parent Communication App Cheat Sheet. Once you start using the Cheat Sheet, you’ll never run out of things to share with your parents!

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