February 2011 Archives

Spring Parent Teacher Conferences - March 2 and 3: Why Bother?

 There's lots of research to support the impact of parent involvement, or the more current research term, family engagement, on children's success in school. This impact is not limited to academic achievement; it affects children's social skills as well.  Schools and parents share a child and while their roles and responsibilities may differ, both have the same goal - that the child will become a successful, competent, and caring learner. Parent- teacher conferences used effectively are a powerful tool to support and strengthen family engagement.  That's why we bother, that's why we take the time, because we know that when parents and teachers work as a team, children are the winners.


Think of the parent-teacher conference as a two-way conversation involving talking and listening with a clear focus - How well is "our child" doing and what can we do together to help "our child" improve?


Here are some tips for parents to make these conferences as productive as possible:


Before the Conference

Ö        Review your child's work and grades

Ö        Talk with your child about school

Ö        Think about your child's strengths and challenges beforehand

Ö        Make a list of questions to ask the teacher


At the end of the conference

Ö        Be sure you are clear on what the teacher has said - This is what I heard you say. . .

Ö        Be sure you and the teacher are clear about "next steps" - We agree that  . . . We will talk again. . .

Ö        Make sure that when you get home you share with your child what you learned at the meeting.   Include your child in the conversation - What do you think?  Does this all make sense?


For more resources on family engagement check the Harvard Family Research Project website at


"Catching" Acts of Kindness


Last week, we celebrated Random Acts of Kindness Week.  It made me think of my daughter-in-law, Phyllis.  Whenever we were out together walking with her girls, (my granddaughters, now 5 and 8) and someone would stop and admire them, saying something along the lines of "How pretty they are . . ., Phyllis would always say "And strong and kind, too."  

"I want them to feel capable and be kind," she would explain.

In these small ways, we transmit values to our children; we let them know what we think is important.  Being kind to one another is a way of living but like all of life it needs our attention to grow and develop. So, let's attend to kindness by encouraging our children to be kind to one another. Let's "catch" them being kind, not just during a week in February, but at any time.


A First Grade Staff - 100 Years Young

Have you noticed an unusual number of children lugging projects into school lately?  I have and each one has been more excited than the next to tell me about his or her project. The school is awash in 100 Days Projects.  They are on display everywhere in classrooms and on hall bulletin boards.  Next time you are in the building, check our bulletin boards, enjoy our children's creative work, and, think about all the learning involved in each project.

But, first, look below and admire our 100 years young and energetic first grade staff !

100 002.jpg


First Graders Meet the Masters

Have you asked your first grader about Degas or Cezanne or perhaps Matisse?  If you do, I think you will be surprised by how much they know about these artists.  Each week in February, our first graders are learning about these artists by examining one or more of their pieces.  Today, I was fortunate to see Mrs. Debbi McCormick, a parent volunteer in our Meet the Artist program, lead the session on Matisse. The children were examining "Icarus" and learning about the myth as well as the painting.  Last week, they did Cezanne, the week before Degas, and Georgia O'Keefe is coming up.  Here's Mrs. McCormick standing by "Icarus" by Matisse.



Meet the Artist.JPG




Young Audiences Comes to Newell

Yesterday we had a special treat, a wonderful Young Audiences performance, which fused dance, story and drama to teach about African dance and culture. It involved three very talented artist-educators who performed individually and as a group. Their energy was contagious and the children loved it. Moreover, the children got to perform as well, some even got to go on stage.  Ask your children to tell you about it. Thank you PTA!


Family Bingo Night

Friday Night was Family Bingo Night.  It was lots of fun.  Children, teachers, and parents played the game enthusiastically, eager to yell, "Bingo!" and win some of the prizes on display.  Every child walked away with a prize. It was a great family affair and evidence of the family atmosphere in this district.


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This page is an archive of entries from February 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2011 is the next archive.

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