Parent-Teacher Conferences- Do’s & Don’ts

Parent-Teacher Conferences- Do’s & Don’ts

Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.

 

It’s time again to meet with parents and guardians of your students one-on-one during parent-teacher conferences.  You may have had interactions with students’ families before, but this time, it’s a little more serious. Unfortunately, you may only have 15 minutes to discuss student progress.  These time constraints can make conference time stressful for teachers.  Be prepared and make your conferences meaningful by using our quick parent-teacher conferences guide.

 

Do:

  • Share specific examples of student work or behavior.  If a student is struggling with a concept or in a subject area, provide “evidence.”
  • “Sandwich” negative information.  Start with positive information, share the negative, and end with another positive.
  • Ask parents to share concerns prior to their conference.  If you have this information ahead of time, you will be better prepared to answer questions during the conference.
  • Be tactful.  Communicate any concerns with clarity but also with sensitivity.
  • Display student work.  Parents like to see what students are working on.
  • Hang a sign outside your door indicating a conference is taking place.  I like to add a note that invites parents to knock quietly on the door if their conference time has arrived.
  • Provide a comfortable, welcoming environment.  I always have a few things on the table during conferences: tissues, pens and pencils, sticky notes, candy, and breath mints.  I also like to play light, classical music in the background.  To make the room smell “home-y,” I use plug-in air-fresheners, scented wax warmers, or candles.  In the hallway, I place chairs, children’s books, blocks, and other toys to keep little ones busy while their parents are waiting.
  • Emphasize the positive.  Show parents you really know and care about their students by providing some examples of student strengths.
  • Keep the focus on the student.  Your time is limited.  Veering off topic isn’t productive.
  • Recommend resources.  Have a handout prepared that includes resources for all students (websites, apps, books, activities, etc.).

 

Don’t:

  • Sit behind your desk.  It can make some parents uncomfortable and makes you look inaccessible.  Instead, sit at a table in the classroom and provide plenty of chairs.  Sitting on the same side of the table sends the message that you want to work WITH parents.
  • Tell parents what they should or shouldn’t do.  Provide specific suggestions.
  • Do all of the talking.  Invite parents to ask questions and provide feedback.
  • Speak using educational jargon.  Use everyday language and avoid acronyms, euphemisms, and professional terms.
  • Provide too many suggestions for student improvement.  It can be overwhelming for parents.  Focus on a few things for a student to work on.
  • Forget to invite all parents/guardians to the conference.  You don’t have to conduct separate meetings for each set of parents (unless you want to).  Share with families that conference slots are limited and that meeting together will allow other families to sign up for a conference.
  • Forget the data!  Whether it’s your computer, a student data folder, or printed test results, keep it handy for easy access during a conference.  Seeing a student’s progress in graph form can be helpful for parents.
  • Make assumptions.  If you speculate about what happens outside of school, you create a tense atmosphere and parents may feel defensive.

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

 

Halloween Costume Ideas for Teachers

Halloween Costume Ideas for Teachers

Don’t let this Halloween be just a bunch of Hocus Pocus in your classroom.

 

Here are some awesome Halloween Costume Ideas for Teachers even the Sanderson sisters would be proud of:

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

 

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

 

Smarty Pants

 

Ms. Frizzle

 

Pete the Cat

 

Pumpkin Pie

Where’s Waldo

 

A Bookworm

 

Emojis 🙂

 

EXPO Markers

 

Rainbow Fish

 

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

 

The Hunger Games

 

Alvin & The Chipmunks

 

Fly Guys

 

Nancy Drew

 

The Incredibles

 

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

 

Bob Ross

 

The Wizard of Oz

 

Cat in the Hat

 

Toy Story

Grouchy Ladybug

 

The Seven Dwarfs

 

The Grammar Police

 

Rock, Paper, Scissors

 

Play-Doh

 

Monsters Inc.

 

Professor Snape

 

And of course, our favorite, The Sanderson Sisters

“We put a spell on you…… Now you have to go check out our Pinterest Page”

Our Pinterest board “Halloween Costumes for Teachers – 2019”  has all kinds of other costume ideas, so be sure to check it out! While you’re there, don’t forget to give us a follow at California Casualty to stay up to date on every new costume we discover! Scan our Pincode with your Pinterest camera to follow:

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. California Casualty does not own any of the photos in this post, all are sources by to their original owners. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Prepare Your Classroom for an Emergency

How to Prepare Your Classroom for an Emergency

Our Education Blogger is a public school teacher with over a decade of experience. She’s an active NEA member and enjoys writing about her experiences in the classroom.

 

Emergency situations can happen any place and at any time, that is why it is important to prepare your classroom for any type of emergency.

 

1. Know Your School Emergency Procedures

Be aware of your building’s emergency procedures, how often drills are practiced, and the expectations of teachers and students during such drills.  Your building should have protocols in place in the event of a fire, tornado (in certain regions), earthquake (in certain regions), intruder, and medical emergencies.  Take time each month to review procedures with students and go over lockdown/evacuation routes and guidelines.

2. Learn where Medical Equipment is Located

Does your building have an AED (Automated External Defibrillator)?  All fifty states have laws or regulations requiring that AEDs be available in public gathering places, and in some states this means schools must keep and maintain AEDs.  Find out where the AED is located in your building.  If you haven’t been trained on how to use it, ask your administrator to arrange a time when staff can be shown how to use it.  If your building doesn’t have one, contact your administrator or school board.

3. Keep an Updated Class Roster With Important Information

Check your class lists to identify students with medical conditions.  If necessary, talk with your school nurse about what to do for these students in emergencies.  For more serious conditions, have a plan in place with the office and nurse if a serious medical event occurs.  In most situations, students with serious medical issues will have some sort of individual health plan (IHP) on file for your reference.  If a student who has an ongoing medical condition does not have an IHP, contact your building nurse who can get the process going if the family requests it.

4. Ask Your School to Invest in Emergency Staff Training

If you haven’t been trained in first aid, CPR, or other important emergency procedures recently, ask your administrator or nurse to arrange regularly scheduled training for staff.

5. Emergency Supplies You Should Keep In Your Classroom

These classroom emergency supplies should be stored in the classroom in the event of a shelter-in-place situation due to an emergency or lockdown.  If your school does not furnish emergency supplies, ask your building’s parent-teacher organization, a local Boy or Girl Scout troop, or even an area church, for assistance obtaining supplies.

    • bucket (can be used to store items, can also be used as an emergency restroom)
    • tissues and toilet paper
    • baby wipes
    • disinfecting wipes
    • blankets or large towels
    • flashlight and batteries
    • hard candies
    • first aid kit with medical gloves and instruction manual
    • folder marked “confidential” with:
      • class list with student pictures
      • student emergency contact information
      • list of students with special needs and description of needs (i.e. medical issues, prescription medicines, dietary needs)
    • list of school emergency procedures
    • plastic bags or sheeting
    • work gloves
    • duct tape
    • masks
    • whistle
    • can opener
    • food
    • water (pouches or small bottles)
    • activities for students (cards, inflatable ball, travel games)

These items should mirror the items you have in your family’s emergency preparedness kit.

6. Create a Classroom “Go Bag”

If your school doesn’t provide one, create a classroom “Go Bag” with necessities.  An old backpack works well.  Place or hang it near your classroom emergency exit.  The bag is meant as a portable supply kit if a building evacuation is necessary.  Recommended items include:

    • water pouches or small water bottles
    • first aid kit
    • whistle
    • baby wipes
    • disinfecting wipes
    • tissues or toilet paper
    • paper, markers, pencils
    • flashlight and batteries
    • list of school emergency procedures
    • activities for students (cards, inflatable ball, travel games)
    • folder marked “confidential” with:
      • class list with student pictures
      • student emergency contact information
      • list of students with special needs and description of needs (i.e. medical issues, prescription medicines, dietary needs)

Be sure to update your supply kits and bags yearly.  Replace any expired items and be sure each kit is properly stocked and stored.

 

Are you prepared for an emergency at school?  What emergency preparedness advice would you give fellow educators?  Leave your thoughts in the comment section!

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

139 Schools Receive 2019 Music and Arts Grants from California Casualty

139 Schools Receive 2019 Music and Arts Grants from California Casualty

San Mateo, CA, September 16, 2019 – One hundred and thirty nine public schools in 31 states will be receiving a $250 Music and Arts Grant from California Casualty. A total of $34,750 is going to provide materials, supplies, and instruments for art, music, and performance programs at the schools.

The grant is designed to foster creativity in schools, such as choir, band, dance, film, theater, computer arts and graphics, or any K-12 curriculum that employs art for learning. 

Examples of how the $250 grants for 2019 will be used include:

  • Purchasing special adaptive instruments for the Special Education Center at Mark Twain School in Garden Grove, CA, that serves special needs and medically fragile students
  • Supplying watercolor sets for third grade students at Homer Davis Elementary School in Tucson, AZ
  • Providing recorders for each music class student at Marie Roberts-Caney Elementary School in Lost Creek, KY
  • Acquiring Diary of a Whimpy Kid books to foster the reading program at Garfield Elementary School in Yakama, WA
  • Supplementing various art supplies (that the instructor often purchases with her own funds) at the Classical Studies Magnet Academy in Bridgeport, CT
  • Buying an additional camera to allow more students to participate in the photography program at Filer High School in Filer, ID

The entire list of Music and Arts grantees can be found here.

California Casualty has partnered with education associations since 1951 and understands the importance of music and arts education for children. Numerous studies have concluded that sharing a love of the arts enhances students’:

  • Brain development
  • Creativity
  • Classroom involvement

Music and art curriculum has also been shown to reduce disciplinary issues and dropout rates.

Unfortunately, many schools have reduced or eliminated music and arts education because of budget cuts. California Casualty hopes to fill the need with the Music and Arts Grant.

“Students love to showcase their creativity, and helping educators keep music and arts in the forefront of every-day learning is absolutely the right thing for us to do,” said California Casualty AVP Brian Goodman.

A pilot program in 2018 helped 50 programs at 46 schools in Kansas, Minnesota and Washington. This included purchasing ukuleles for the Kennydale Elementary School (WA) music and dance program, where music instructor Nikki Skinner said, “I look forward to, seeing students learn about reading music, playing as a group, working together and listening to each other as they grow and delight in their performance and celebrate an accomplishment.”

Dena Enyeart, at Cascade Middle School in Longview, WA, wrote this thank you note, “I was able to take the money from the Music and Arts Grant and have my students create ornaments. Other teachers made them with students too. We had 25 tables for our November Bazar, and raised over $1,200. This money has been used to help students in need finance their 8th grade trip to Washington, D.C., and we were able to purchase close to 80 shirts for students at our school (to promote school unity. Thank you California Casualty for the opportunity to apply for the Music and Arts Grant. My kids not only loved making clay items, it ended up benefitting our entire school.

Public K-12 schools needing funding for an arts or performance program can apply for the 2020 Music and Arts Grant from California Casualty at www.calcasmusicartsgrant.com

Founded in 1914, California Casualty provides the NEA Auto and Home Insurance Program. Headquartered in San Mateo, California, with Service Centers in Arizona, Colorado and Kansas, California Casualty has been led by four generations of the Brown family. To learn more about California Casualty, or to request an auto insurance quote, please visit www.calcas.com/NEA  or call 1.800.800.9410.

California Casualty Congratulates Nebraska $7,500 School Lounge Makeover Winner

California Casualty Congratulates Nebraska $7,500 School Lounge Makeover Winner

The staff members at Palmer Pubic School in Palmer, Nebraska are celebrating after being announced  that they are the next school to receive a $7,500 School Lounge Makeover from California Casualty. “We will have a real place to meet, relax, and hold meetings – I can’t wait,” exclaimed English teacher Mary Gregoski, after learning she had submitted the winning entry. Mary, also the school librarian, is in her 10th year teaching at Palmer Public School in Palmer, Nebraska.

Mary is dedicated to making a difference every day, teaching life skills, building relationships, and impacting students’ lives. “I focus on what I can do to prepare them for what’s coming next, and I’m always asking myself, ‘What’s best for the kids?’”

“The staff deserves this for all that they do giving to students and the community,” said School Superintendent Joel Bohlken.

The school currently has no designated area where employees can eat lunch, visit and rejuvenate. Designers from EON Office Supplies will work with the staff to create a space with organized storage, new appliances and furniture, and soothing colors. The new lounge will be unveiled in October.

Mary applied for the makeover after a presentation from California Casualty’s Stephanie Whitmore during a Nebraska Education Association Leadership event. “We are just so grateful that California Casualty thinks about educators,” Mary added.

Palmer Public School is the 13th school to receive a School Lounge Makeover® from California Casualty. The contest was created in 2011 to provide educators a more conducive environment to take a break and share time.

Find more information about California Casualty and it’s giving programs at https://mycalcas.com/communityand stay tuned for Palmer Public School’s School Lounge Makeover big reveal!

 

Founded in 1914, California Casualty provides auto and home insurance for educators, firefighters, peace officers and nurses across the country. Headquartered in San Mateo, California, with service centers in Arizona, Colorado and Kansas, California Casualty has been led by four generations of the Brown family. Learn more about California Casualty at www.calcas.com.

Classroom Technology to Increase Student Engagement

Classroom Technology to Increase Student Engagement

Are your students truly engaged during your instruction? Getting, and keeping, students academically engaged may be one of the most difficult aspects of teaching.  

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) says the number one way to increase student engagement is to reach them through classroom technology: “By integrating technology in the classroom, educators can take learning experiences to the next level and significantly improve student performance.”

Increase student engagement with classroom technology by using some of these simple, online engagement tools in your next lesson.       

EDPuzzle Easily engage your students with video. Pick a video, add your magical touch and track your students’ understanding.

Flippity – Turn a Google Spreadsheet into a set of online flashcards, MadLibs, game show, and other cool stuff.

Kahoot! – Make learning fun with this free game-based learning platform. Choose any subject, in any language, on any device, for any age!

Safe YouTube Watch, crop and share safe YouTube videos without comments, ads, or other distractions. Videos can integrate with Google Classroom or be downloaded as an .MP4 file.

Dotstorming – Create an online space for people to post digital sticky notes. Those notes can contain text and or images. Dotstorming takes the process of dot voting online to allow groups of people to collaborate on a topic.

Plickers – Collect real-time formative assessment data without the need for student devices. 

CalCas PrintablesDownload free printable quotes, games, and interactive activities to use in your classroom courtesy of California Casualty. Or request a custom printable with a special theme, your classroom motto, a favorite quote, etc., and they’ll create it for you for free! Request yours today by sending a message to California Casualty on Facebook.

What web tools or classroom technology do you use to enhance engagement with your students? Please share in the comments below!

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

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