Communicating with my Super Star Families and their children is a blend of mostly professional information with some getting-to-know-you glimpses of personal interests and topics. I believe being a friendly and authentic person/teacher is what builds the best bonds with students as they decide whether or not to trust me, and with parents as they work through the process of loosening or cutting their apron strings.
Relationship-building matters. I share information about myself with humor, and with appropriate boundaries in place. Because I'm now the same age as (or older than) many of my students' parents, I understand and can commiserate with them, instead of spending my time worrying about whether or not they approve of me or consider me an expert. Because I'm a mom, and even more affirming, the mom of a first grader, my Stars find me credible and are quick to take ownership of me.
For almost a decade I've carried a camera with me. Fun photo apps on my cell phone and iPad have contributed to my point-and-shoot tendencies too, and I love using pictures I've taken as I develop lessons, introduce concepts, or share a bit of myself with my students. While I photograph my Stars and their day-to-day activities, I also like to share photos of what I encounter away from school.
As any experienced early childhood professional can tell you, it's usually the connections to their teacher that will determine what stories about school and learning children will remember and share again once at home. For example:
Major cool points! Sure, it's awesome because it's a mantis. It's green, some of my students' favorite color. But what is it climbing on? Why it's one of Mrs. Sommerville's porch chairs! "Mom, Dad, did you know Mrs. Sommerville found a green mantis on her porch chair?"
Of course the porch chairs aren't the only places I find cool creatures at our house. One morning I went out to water our garden, and noticed what I thought was a rock left by the first grader on our porch step. Wondering why he left only one rock, I took a closer look and guess what? The rock blinked at me!
You can almost hear what students will relay to their parents, can't you?
How about my new neighbors? They live in a house attached to MY house!
How many do you see? What do you think they are? Here's what they look like now:
The mother bird built her nest up high in the eaves in the shade under the porch. Though the mother usually flies out first to distract us from her nest, sometimes she ends up dive-bombing Dear Daughter's hair if she feels that too much time has been spent by us in the doorway.
Mm is for mantis. Tt is for toad. Nn is for nest, Bb is for bird.
Mrs. Sommerville has a lot of animals living at her house Mom!
Connections, bonding, relationship-building. The essential three.
Have you visited Mrs. Stanford's Class yet? She's hosting a *fabulous* giveaway!