Back to School: Two Ways to Build a Bridge Between Teachers and Parents
As we navigate this new school year, it’s so important to view learning as a collaboration and create a bridge between teachers and parents. Without that bridge, we will not have a successful experience with in-person, blended, or online learning. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some tips that teachers can share with parents and caregivers to initiate a successful school year.
Also, make sure to subscribe to Building the Bridge, a weekly podcast hosted by Dr. Wendy Oliver, Chief Learning Officer of EdisonLearning. This podcast connects educators and parents with practical strategies and expert insights about blended and online learning. Find recent episodes here: https://www.edisonlearning.com/podcast. Find the podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and more.
Invoke the Joy of Learning
First of all, learning is fun! It’s supposed to be fun, whether it’s at home or at school. That’s why it’s so important to invoke the joy of learning in the classroom, including the virtual classroom. Overall, the best way educators can be supportive to caregivers is to share how to encourage the joy of learning. Learning at home will be successful and manageable if it feels good for students.
The joy of learning is heightened when you play to the students’ interests. Make it fun while making it relevant. An example of playing into students’ interests could be the way to find a reading buddy. If a child is learning online, you can get creative. Here are some tips to consider:
• A family pet is a great reading buddy
• No pets? A stuffed animal works just as well
• Take turns reading out loud with your child. Alternating paragraphs with your child will give them a small break and is a great way to get a sense of his or her reading abilities.
Small concessions to make students feel like they have a space to learn really helps them look forward to reading. Creating unique opportunities gives them something to look forward to and instills the joy of learning.
Use Empowering Tools
Educators have spent years of training and have tools and strategies they draw on to inspire learning. Teachers, please share educational and empowering tools with parents. Parents, please ask teachers for educational and empowering tools. It’s critical to communicate with your child’s teacher to let him or her know if your child is struggling with content or provide helpful feedback to assist with the learning process.
Excellent feedback comes from using Growth Mindset language, which is viewing challenges as an opportunity to better ourselves. It encourages us to learn from the process and from our mistakes. This is in stark contrast to a fixed mindset, which is the belief that we are born with the ability or the inability to do something. In other words, if we try it once and cannot do it, there is no use in trying to learn it. A fixed mindset is not helpful for anyone, which is why it is so important to empower your child with Growth Mindset language. If your child says, “I can’t do this” or “I’m not good at this,” encourage him or her to say “I’m not good at this yet, but I’m going to give it another try.” Encourage the power of “yet” because none of us were really born good at anything. We all had to learn things. It’s okay to learn things at a different pace than others. We all have our strengths. Mistakes are okay. It means you’re learning. The key is to keep a positive attitude and to keep trying.
Another example is when your child says, “I don’t get it.” Gently correct him or her and say, “Did you mean you need to find out what you’re missing? Let’s take a look.” When you make the subtle shift to identifying that they are missing something, but let’s figure it out, there is still hope in learning something. When you just say “I don’t get it,” that’s a definitive statement and does not leave much room for growth. See the difference? This type of language focuses on results that you get when you put forth effort and you try to gain a better understanding of what is expected or how something works.
Your teacher will likely have a whole list of positive statements surrounding the Growth Mindset concept to help you encourage your child, or you can watch the YouTube video below featuring Dr. Carol Dweck who developed the Growth Mindset concept for more information. When you use this positive reinforcement language, students change their way of thinking. This type of positive shift has a way of seeping into all facets of life for students and parents alike.
Educators have been trained in all types of strategies like this. They’re armed with this information. It’s so important, educators, for you to share this. You may not even think about it because it comes as second nature. Teachers and parents collaborating and building bridges together will help facilitate a successful school year.