Important Enough to Back Track: Adult Communication that Impacts Student Success in Schoo

This Series began on January 9, 2017 with the following:

January 9, 2017   Adult Communication that Impacts Student Success in School

Up to this time, this blog has focused on language development and use by children.  The idea was to focus on the ways in which children do and can develop the language skills that help them to be successful learners.  There is a wealth of information “out there” as well an on this blog about ways to do this.

It is time for a new focus: the communication of adults that impacts children’s success in school and beyond.  Teachers and parents talk about children and their success or lack of success in school, administrators and teachers talk about children, special educators and teachers talk about children.  Support staff members and “outside” experts “communicate” about children and their success or lack of success in school.  What do we know about how these “stakeholders” (is that the correct term?) talk to each/one another about children’s success in school?  How much of their conversations address the reasons for children’s success or lack of success and what each adult does/can do to ensure that success.

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Time to look at these communication (dialogue?) topics and issues in more detail.  So, starting with the first posting in that sequence:

http://www.latimes.com/local/education/community/la-me-edu-how-to-actually-get-something-out-of-parent-teacher-conferences-20151023-story.html

The above mentioned article opens in the following way:

It’s that time of year. Kids have been in school for a while, and now you get about 15 minutes with their teacher to talk about … what, exactly?

Parent-teacher conferences can be confusing. They’re rushed, with parents lingering to ask questions and more hovering at the door.

But education researchers say parental involvement and communication with teachers is an important element of student success. We talked to experts to find out why parent-teacher conferences are important and how parents can make the most of their time. These experts are listed at the end of the story.” 

THE ARTICLE GOES ON TO LIST QS AND PREPARATION:

Parent Questions:

Should I go only if my child is having problems?

NO, but you should definitely go if your child is not making the kind of progress you expect or hope for. (My comment)

How do I prepare?  They respond:

“Talk to your child. These conferences are short — they tend to be 10 to 20 minutes long at most, so it’s good to go in knowing what you want to glean from them. There are a few questions parents can ask their children to prepare beyond “How’s class?” and “How’s your teacher?”. 

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Equally important are the teacher’s preparation and role before, during, and after the conference.

Below are some things  you (administrators, teachers, and parents) can talk about, and groups like the Harvard Family Research Project and a school district in Washington have even published preparation tip sheets:….” 

This is an 8 page document published by Harvard with advice for principals, teachers, and parents.  Pay particular attention to page 5 and on  for teachers and then the following page for Parent

Here are some of the tips that come from the Harvard group for Teachers:

Before the conference:  (Note these are all direct quotes for sections of each item.)

Review student work. Be prepared to go over student data, assignments, and assessments during the conferences. Think of what more you would like to learn about your students from their parents.

􀂾 Prepare thoughts and materials. Create an agenda or list of key issues you want to discuss about each student’s progress and growth. Also consider creating a portfolio of student work to walk through with families during the conferences.

 During the Conference

Discuss progress and growth.

􀂾 Use examples

􀂾 Ask questions and listen actively

􀂾 Share ideas for supporting learning

􀂾 Seek solutions collaboratively. How “we” can work together to resolve any problems.

􀂾 Make an action will check in with one another about progress.

 After the conference

􀂾 Establish lines of communication.

􀂾 Follow up with families. If practical, contact parents (either by phone or in a note) who attended the conference and thank them for doing so. Ask if they have further questions or concerns and send home materials that can help them support learning at home. Contact parents who did not attend, as well, and offer alternative ways to communicate about their child.

􀂾 Communicate regularly.

􀂾 Connect in-class activities.

AND THEN THE ARTICLE OFFERS HARVARD’S ADVICE FOR PARENTS:

Advice for the Parent’s Role

What should you expect?

􀂾 A two-way conversation.

􀂾 Emphasis on learning

􀂾 Opportunities and challenges.

.What should you talk to the teacher about?

􀂾 Progress. Find out how your child is doing by asking questions like: Is my child performing at grade level?

􀂾 Assignments and assessments. Ask to see examples of your child’s work.

􀂾 Your thoughts about your child. Be sure to share your thoughts and feelings about your child.

􀂾 Support learning at home. Ask what you can do at home to help your child learn.

􀂾 Support learning at school. Find out what services are available at the school to help your child

 How should you follow up?

􀂾 Make a plan.

􀂾 Schedule another time to talk.

􀂾 Talk to your child. …Share with your child what you learned…

 For more resources on family involvement, visit www.hfrp.org

 

Lastly, the article offers this guiding acronym:

 “BE HEARD ”Keep these principles in mind fora great parent–teacher conference:

Best intentions assumed

Emphasis on learning

Home–school collaboration

Examples and evidence

Active listening

Respect for all

Dedication to follow-up

The article continues on to offer a “different guide” on Parent-Teacher Conferences

 

 

 

 

 

 

Focus on Dialogue About Teaching/Learning: Who is Engaged?

I began this current sequence of blogs by introducing a posting about “Openness to Learning” in which an expert on communication and learning provided insights into how administrators and teachers can optimize student success by engaging in meaningful dialogue.  But it isn’t only teachers and administrators who are engaged in this topic.  Here are some other “potential” discourse partners who can/will influence student success.

Teacher/Parent Conversations

Teacher/Student Conversations

Parent/Student Conversations

Student/Student Conversations

Special Educator/Teacher/Parent/Student Conversations

Teacher/Support Staff Conversations

In an attempt to curate/find relevant files/links for this current series I went back to my ScoopIt site for posts I had curated for my Dialogue and Learning Board: http://www.scoop.it/t/dialogue-and-learning which has over 500 posting starting in 2012.  Here is just a brief listing of the types of posts I curated:

Parent-Teacher Dialogue

http://www.latimes.com/local/education/community/la-me-edu-how-to-actually-get-something-out-of-parent-teacher-conferences-20151023-story.html

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/parent-teacher-conferences-collaborative-conversations-john-mccarthy?spMailingID=12608933&spUserID=MjcyNTI3Njg3NDIS1&spJobID=640473825&spReportId=NjQwNDczODI1S0

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/what-parents-want-teachers-to-know-joe-mazza?spMailingID=9633557&spUserID=MjcyNTI3Njg3NDIS1&spJobID=400677021&spReportId=NDAwNjc3MDIxS0

http://www.scilearn.com/blog/10-questions-to-ask-your-childs-teacher-cognitive-skills

Teacher-Student Dialogue

Students Voice…what are student’s thinking

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocM9Sqz2gzg

Teaching Students to Give and Receive Feedback

http://inservice.ascd.org/teaching-students-to-give-and-receive-meaningful-feedback/

Parent-Student Dialogue

Good Talk: Raising Smart Learners Through Rich Conversations

http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/09/30/good-talk-raising-smart-learners-through-rich-conversations/

Student-Student Dialogue

https://www.middleweb.com/28404/scaffolding-student-skills-for-productive-classroom-discussions/

https://cultofpedagogy.com/speaking-listening-techniques/

What’s Next?

Are there general guidelines for conversation?  Do they apply to all partnerships?  To all situations? Grice’s Maxims offer a starting place ( https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/dravling/grice.html ) but are they enough?

 

 

 

An Approach to Being “Open to Learning”…for Educational Leaders

Leading Students to Success in School

file:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/Open-to-learning_Conversations_Background_Paper_In%20(1).pdf

A few short excerpts that I hope will gain your interest and willingness to read and consider the whole 12 page document!  You may find it helpful to start with this 5 minute video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB7wP8WJZeU

 

“The model of communication that informs this module is that of “Open-to-learning” conversations. At the heart of the model is the value of openness to learning – learning about the quality of the thinking and information that we use when making judgments about what is happening, why and what to do about it. An open-to-learning conversation, therefore, is one in which this value is evident in how people think and talk…. …Leaders may want to address what they see as a performance issue yet believe they can not do so without running an unacceptable risk of increased stress and conflict. In other words, they feel that they can not address the performance issues and maintain relationships with the staff member…”

“… The dilemma between concern for the person and for the task is irresolvable in both these examples,           doc4-cooperation                    because the leader leaves no room for a shared or co-constructed evaluation of the reading programme.

 

In the soft sell strategy, the leader discourages debate by failure to disclose her evaluation of the reading programme. In the hard sell strategy, the leader discourages debate by assuming the truth of her views. Neither strategy will produce the type of conversation that is necessary to reach a principled agreement about the quality of the programme and about whether change is needed….”

“When leaders seek to impose their views rather than invite debate and co-construction,

they face the dilemma of how to do so without creating negative emotional reactions. The key to resolving this dilemma is not, as we have seen, to hide one’s own views in the hope that the other party will express what the leader is reluctant to disclose….”

“Guiding Values Key Strategies

  1. Increase the Validity of Information • Information includes thoughts, opinions, reasoning, inferences and feelings
  • Disclose the reasoning that leads to your views
  • Provide examples and illustrations of your views • Treat own views as hypotheses rather than taken for granted truths
  • Seek feedback and disconfirmation
  1. Increase Respect • Treat others as well intentioned, as interested in learning and as capable of contributing to your own….
  2. Increase Commitment • Foster ownership of decisions through transparent and shared processes,,,,”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words….the smallest unit of communication.

One of my favorite resources on Literacy is The TextProject.  Here is a recent post on word/vocabulary learning.  Putting words in context build background knowledge and gives kids something to talk about.

The Text Project and Resources on Words (Vocabulary Learning)

http://www.textproject.org/classroom-materials/students/stories-of-words/

We are pleased to offer you our newest product, Stories of Words.

Stories of Words aims to develop students’ interest in interesting words (e.g., snickerdoodles, terrapin, scuba). The texts in Stories of Words use the TExT model—the same model that underlies all TextProject products (e.g., FYI for Kids) and commercial products (e.g., QuickReads). That means that reading the texts also increases students’ exposure to the core vocabulary. Each book of the 12-volume series explores the vocabulary of a different topic such as food, movies, and acronyms.

Each topic falls into one of four methods of how words have been added to the English Language.

  1. Languages from other parts of the world.
  2. Themes that play a big part of our lives.
  3. Words that we’ve manipulated or reused to suit different needs.
  4. New words to describe new inventions or technological advances.

 

Here is one example from the Word “Flight.”

http://www.textproject.org/assets/products/stories-of-words/Stories-of-Words-2016-Flight.pdf

The Power of Words – Building Vocabulary Age 3 to Grade 3

Deep Listening. Especially Important for Learning

Deep Listening

Posted to Dialogue on Oct 20 16

Bookmark

http://www.edutopia.org/discussion/deep-listening-activities-academic-discussions

Amy Heusterberg-Richards , ELA Teacher – High School

Posted 10/01/2016 9:01PM | Last Commented 10/07/2016 8:41PM

Deep Listening Activities for Academic Discussions

A short excerpt:

“Deep listening is a technique beautifully rooted in American traditions like the Quaker faith and various Native tribes. At its core, deep listening entails listening over hearing and connecting over responding. In relationships, deep listening means acknowledging others’ emotions so they feel heard. In careers, deep listening means developing productive, honest communication by listening to understand, not merely to reply. In my classroom, deep listening can mean students better know each other’s ideas and therefore better know our studies.  It can mean a more inclusive atmosphere where all voices feel respected and where moments of silence are welcome….”

 

Listening and Learning

Reading Sage on Think Alouds

From the blog of  The Dyslexic Reading Teacher Sean Taylor,  a teacher whose work I highly respect and value!

 http://reading-sage.blogspot.com/2016/07/effective-think-aloud-think-aloud.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ReadingSageReviews+%28Reading+Sage+Reviews%29

 Rethinking Ability Groups and Differentiation!

   ” Teachers are trained to use reading assessment data to differentiate and ability group students based on reading comprehension scores, yet many teachers never ability group based on the students listening levels. Many teachers never test the students listening comprehension ability. Why? Basing reading instruction and lessons on grade level reading scores alone is a mistake, student’s grade level listening comprehension levels are a clue to your students’ potential ability….”

 My Experience with Low Reading Scores and High Listening Comprehension!

       “Special educations students like me, that could barely decode at a first grade level in 5th grade, yet I could have easily understood literary concepts many years higher than my grade level. I never had a chance to test my ability and tackle complex literary concepts because I was always in a special education ability grouped reading class (differentiated) my whole public school career!  My education choices were accommodated, modified and differentiated to the point of being mute….”

 

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