7.1 Communicating with Families

This week 4-13 Parent Letter

Figure 1

This program standard refers to teacher communication with families about students’ progress, which should happen on a regular basis. This also means that the teacher is respectful of others’ cultures and norms, and is available as needed for families to communicate with. Figure 1 shows a copy of a parent newsletter I have sent home as evidence of my communication with families, as a part of my family engagement plan, shown in figure 2. The engagement plan was written as a part of coursework, but I have implemented many of the strategies in it during my internship. Having an effective engagement plan for families has been shown to be incredibly important in students’ learning. A John Hopkins University evaluation found that in schools that had an effective plan, student attendance was 24% higher, and literacy achievement was improved. My family engagement plan shows reflections and notes I have made on the effectiveness of the items for family engagement. It reflects my strong interest in incorporating families into their students’ learning as much as possible, and shows my emerging competence in this area. Figure 1 shows efforts I have taken to communicate with families in a professional manner, while figure 2 demonstrates my plans for the future as well as additional items I have completed in my internship. While creating this family engagement plan, and implementing some of the items in the list, I feel that I have gained a deeper understanding of the value parents and families can bring to their child’s education, as well as their appreciation in being included. At my host school, families are very involved in their students’ education and learning, and it is easy to see how this impacts the students, both in their learning as well as their interest. By creating an effective engagement plan for my first year of teaching, I can incorporate student interests

Welsh.Meghan.Family Engagement Plan_Page_2

Figure 2

and involve families and parents for higher understanding and engagement. In the future, I will keep my engagement plan updated so that it is relevant to my classroom, and I will write specific goals to ensure that I am acting on the items in my plan. These goals will help to keep me on track in my engagement plan as well as making my plan actionable.

 

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3.1 Demonstrating Knowledge of Students

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Figure 1

To demonstrate knowledge of students, a teacher should recognize the value of understanding students’ skills, knowledge, and language proficiency and use this to inform instruction in class. During my internship, I have made efforts to use knowledge of my students to inform planning and differentiate instruction for groups of students. For example, there are two ELL students in my class who are at a level 1 in reading English. To assist their learning, I have created numerous picture vocabulary charts to go with specific units in class, and have implemented the Picture Word Inductive Model (PWIM) to assist in student writing. Figure 1 shows an example of a partially completed PWIM chart, used in our science reading about biomes. Research has shown that using the inductive model so that students search for patterns and infer meanings is highly effective for building ELL students’ vocabulary (Calhoun, 1999). This shows that I understand the importance of knowing my students’ skills, knowledge, and language proficiency and I am using this knowledge to aid my students in their learning. By creating models such as the PWIM, I have been practicing and testing the usefulness of these in my classroom. I have seen the effectiveness of PWIM in class, and how working with the patterns found in pictures helps students build vocabulary and content knowledge. I have learned that using my knowledge of what my students can and can’t do really helps to guide thinking while working with the PWIM. My understanding of how this knowledge is helpful to my students really benefits them in their learning. I have noticed clearer writing and speaking relating to a topic, as well as a higher understanding of the content. My ELL students use the tools they are provided with and the PWIM to organize their thoughts in English. Without knowing what they know and can do, the models and tools I create for students aren’t effective. In the future, I will learn more about various strategies that can be used for other subgroups in my class to improve instruction for all students and not just one group.