Tips and musings from veteran teacher and SchoolStatus trainer, Tyler Cummings.My teacher friends have instituted wellness checks on all their students in the last few weeks. They invite parents to send them texts, emails, make a call just to check in on their students. When a parent doesn’t get a chance to call in - they reach out.
My daughter’s teacher has been doing the same thing, and today we sent her a short video of my little girl on the swing. She was telling her teacher about how she missed the swings at school, but she had one at home now. This communication between home and school had nothing to do with grades or test scores--it was only focused on their relationship. That connection between school and home is so crucial.
Home-school connection helps build positive school culture. Family engagement (whether that family is mom and dad, or grandparents, or aunts and uncles, or just people we call aunts and uncles) with intention is what will drive student success.
What intention? The intention to connect for one. The intention to connect about a student’s growth potential for another. Most importantly, the intention to listen to parents.
When educators think about communication, we tend to think about how we need to tell parents about a thing. Or how we need to tell our students that an assignment is due. There are two words in those sentences we need to explore; ‘Need’ and ‘Tell.’
These words expose our intentions. We think we need to tell parents about what we think is important. The student is not the center of that intention. We can all fall prey to this line of thought, and that’s ok. Often what we need to tell a parent will help a student. I just hope that we think first about the intention of our communications.
My teacher friends that are doing wellness checks now have the right intention. Those calls are for one reason only, to ask, “How are you?” Now that we’ve begun to do this as educators I hope we continue to do it in the fall and throughout our careers.
Those calls also expose a problem that has been facing educators for a long time, but it has never been in our face so forcefully as it is right now. School is often the only place where some kids can get some relief from their home life. Those kids are in places or with family members that are bad for their mental or physical health. We have always known that we have those students in our classes.
The most popular kid in school might have a home life that forces them to look for acceptance in other people. That kid doesn’t have access to those other people. The kids with one or two close friends might not have access to them right now and they are isolated. That’s why these wellness checks are so vital.
The stories I hear that break my heart are the teachers who are trying to connect with a few kids they haven’t heard from since the last time they saw them. Those stories are crushing. How is that kid? Why don’t we hear from them? Maybe they just don’t have internet, or maybe…
They’re our students, they’re our kids. We want to know.
Maybe, and I hope this is the issue with most of these stories, we just don’t have a good contact.
Thankfully, when this is all over, that’s something we can fix. You get sticky notes with contacts on them all the time. Pass that onto your Attendance Clerk/Cohort Clerk/AP/Counselor person in your school that handles your student data. There is someone at your school. (I know one district that uses each of those people in different schools in different capacities to handle updating student contacts).
In SchoolStatus, you can also flag a number that you know is incorrect. When you do that it will alert someone at your district that number needs updating. Once that number is updated in the Student Information System - it is updated for every teacher using SchoolStatus automatically.
We can work together to find the best method to contact parents, and then we can have those intentional conversations with them about the most important thing in the world right now, “How are you doing today?”
SchoolStatus gives educators a real-time picture of all data associated with their students including benchmarks, state assessments, grades, discipline, attendance, etc. From the same view, educators have tools to contact parents via text, email or call while documenting the communication on the student record. No other parent communication technology provides tools for data analytics and parent communication from within a single system.