Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Team up!

Dear Parents,
I love your kids. I adore them. I love watching them learn to read, learn to count, learn to share. I even love them when they are having a bad day and are fussy and argue with me. It's part of my job. I did not sign up to teach for the good days. Part of my job is to work with your children even when they are frustrated, tired, or don't feel like sharing. In fact, it's an essential part of my job- it's my job to teach them how to deal with frustration and how to share.
I can only do my job if your child comes to school. Every day. Not once a week. Not three times a week. Every. day.
I know your kindergartner/first grader is hard to wake up in the morning. I know they tell you they don't want to go to school. Some mornings I tell Mr. Lipstick that I don't want to go to school either. But that's just because I don't want to get out of bed or I want to stay at home and cuddle with Little Lipstick. Once I'm at school I remember how much fun it is. Your kid does that too.
In the morning getting ready for school may seem overwhelming to them. They have to get out of bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth, put on their shoes and get out the door- that's a lot just for them to be away from you for hours. They will fuss. They will hide their shoes. They will eat slowly.
But I promise once they come to school they forget all about that. We have fun in our class. We sing, we dance, we read books and act out the characters. We laugh. A lot. Usually once your child is in school I never once hear a complaint about wanting to go home. In fact, usually when it's time to go home I hear groans.

And every day is important. Even those "fun days" when we are having a field day or pajama day or free choice. At those times we are working on sharing and team work and working through frustrations. I am teaching every moment of the day. Your child isn't just missing reading instruction- he's missing instruction on how to be a student. Which, frankly, is going to really help him be successful for the next 12 years of his life.

Instruction has momentum. I plan lessons for a week- we build on what we did the day before. We practice, and practice, and practice what we've learned. Research shows the importance of repetition, but if your student only comes to school a few times a week they are missing out on that chance for repetition.

It doesn't matter how good my lesson plans are, how hard I work, how much data I take, how many times we have a conference. If your child does not come to school I cannot teach them.

I want to teach your kids. I love teaching and I absolutely adore your kids. We have to be a team. Not a good cop/bad cop team but a true team where the kids see us as an unstoppable force.

I heard this article on the radio today and it discussed research that shows:
"We looked at ninth grade testing data in Florida, and we essentially found a miss-one-day, lose-one-point relationship," he says. "Which is, for every day a kid misses school, they, on average, score one point lower on the high stakes tests."

It is one thing to think about losing one point here and there on standardized tests, but we're not learning for standardized tests. We are learning how to read- something your child will use every single day the rest of his life. What is the equivalent of losing one point per day in reading instruction? 

Please, let's be a team. We will be unstoppable. We will get your children reading and writing and adding and counting and being an awesome friend. But we have to work together. I have to be part of the equation. 
Your child's second biggest fan (after you, of course) 

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