Sunday, August 30, 2015

Mini Home Visits... Drop Offs... Drive-bys

I have a million things I should be doing, but last night was such a high that I'm going to link up with Teaching Trio's Sunday Scoop today to share. I'm most excited about number 1 on the list. 

(Golly, that was not the font to use in there! You were thinkin that too, right? Fess up. We all become editors as we blog read. I mean, bloggers aren't real writers... Was I tired last night or what...)

Our school puts final touches on classlists as late as possible to catch as many of the new kids coming in as we can. Our Meet & Greet is this coming Wednesday, the week before school starts so Friday was the deadline... well, it was kindergarten's deadline because K families get a special packet that cannot be sent electronically.

For years I've sent home "The August Packet." It consists of

• a welcome letter to parents from me

• a request that both parents send me an email so I can just copy and paste CORRECT email addresses into my list. When I had to type them in myself I used to get most of them wrong. Well, lots of them. At least a few. Enough to make corrections annoying!

• a transportation form that tells me where kids go after school– child care, bus, or pick-up by who.

• an invitation to Work & Mingle Night– don't know what Work & Mingle Night is??? Mine is this coming Thursday, before school starts this year. Before school is the most useful time. I hope I can be ready. And not too frantic. Click on the photo below to see the post and some useful wording.

• my Ultimate Student Info Card that parents must fill out before they drop off their child on the first day. You won't believe all the info I get from one half sheet of paper. Yes, I will need extra copies for those parents who didn't do it and don't realize I'll hold their child ransom until I get it. And they all want their child back... at least on the first day of kindergarten. It is available as a free download if you click on this photo of it.

Freebie Kidpeople Classroom Ultimate Parent Info Card

• a first-day-of-school backpack checklist saying what students need and don't need

• my brand new Parent Flip Book! It is a template that you can use to cover any topic.  My colleague uses hers for curriculum night. Mine includes EVERYTHING incoming parents need to know. It says so right on the cover. Well, almost everything– lunch; snack; dressing for winter; field trips; my classroom behavior expectations; ways to support learning at home; spare clothes; and toileting details. (Do you know the word "toileting" is not real. It comes up with a red spelled wrong line. Let me tell you it is a real word among teachers of young children. Yep, it is.) The Flip Book also includes ways parents can contact me and a big welcome. To a great extent, it is the nitty-gritty of my philosophy of education. And yes, it is long, but if they ain't gonna read it at peak excitement for their kid's first school experience, then when are they gonna. They usually hang on your every word at this point in the year, and I take full advantage. A parent in the know is a parent ready to go. I just made that up.

I had all the info written up from years of teaching kindergarten, but the flip book part was new. I compiled it as a reference packet that parents can and hopefully WILL refer to all year. I LOVE how it turned out.

It actually is purple, blue and green, not pink, blue and yellow. huh.

I got the template from Learning in Wonderland. You can get it, too, from TPT by clicking on the picture of mine up above. There is even a video tutorial to help you put it together. It is work to make everything fit the prearranged spaces, but it was a good summer task and I am so happy to have it.

• and last but not least, my letter to my new students. It has a kid friendly message designed to quiet the jitters and it has a photo of a wildly waving yours truly. You can download a completely editable copy to see what it says by clicking on the photo.

NOW to tell you the sweetest part, and why I'm really posting this morning. As I mentioned, we wait as long as we can to finalize classlists so everyone is included, so there isn't much time to get the August Packet to families in time for them to drop off their completed information and transportation forms at our Meet & Greet. To make sure it reaches them in time I do drive-by mini home visits and deliver the packets door to door. I don't actually just drive by. I stop. And get out VERY briefly.

Here comes Mrs. Wright.
I found this posted on the internet and it is MY car.
No, really. I mean, yes, really.
At least this person "got it."
I think I love him.
Plates are meant to be fun, right??

Our school is the most westward school in the district, on the edge of town where there are various subdivisions. It is pretty easy to group the packets by neighborhood to drop them off. I did tonight, with Jonathan dragging along playing chauffeur so I could just hop out. (Don't feel bad for him– he gets free haircuts. And we're an old married couple– what else does he have to do but be with his wife on a Saturday night no matter what she's doing.) If no one was home, I left the packet in the door, but going between 6 - 7:30 p.m. on a Saturday night is a good time to find people.  I mean, come on, parents of kindergartners never go out on a Saturday night like kindergarten teachers and their husbands.

Honest to Pete, you would think Santa Claus was standing on the porch when they come to the door! Can the eyes of my new kidpeople get any bigger? The kids are thrilled, too. I got hugs from kids and parents alike! I had to refuse invites in, cups of tea and coffee, Sprite and pizza! I even could have had a beer. I didn't manage to dodge having my picture taken once or twice– darn it that iPhones are so convenient when I'm in work clothes from sorting out the classroom all day. Photos I don't want to see. Ever. I do drive a red vehicle but I'm not as round as Santa. Really. Just sayin. In case you're taking that analogy too far.

It takes just over an hour of my our time (Thank you, Jonathan. Remember– free haircuts) and I couldn't invest the hour any better. It is SO worth it! Everyone is happy and the stage. is. set. I gain a lot of info, too. I know our neighborhoods pretty well now. I greet former students out on the sidewalks. I see where my kids live and to a certain extent how they live. It lets me connect with my littles even before I know them.

In another lifetime, long ago, I used to do home visits. They seem to be a thing of the past now, but this little mini-version on the porch and in the driveway is better than nothing. It really makes me happy to be a kindergarten teacher, welcoming parents to school, and the kids to my classroom. I mean, a Mrs. Wright Sighting at your own house! Not at school. Where she lives. I get instant celebrity status. Among a small handful of five year olds. I thrill easily.

I know we all teach in a million different situations, but if you can swing getting out into your school community and connecting with kids and families even before they arrive at your classroom door, I HIGHLY recommend it. I was pooped, but happy, and so looking forward to seeing my new little darlings in a week's time. Even if "home visits" are not practical, I hope some of the things I mention from the packet are useful to you. Have a great rest of the weekend! Me... I'm starting to get that back-to-school high energy that makes me just. a. little. punchy. It's only gonna get worse.

Thanks for stopping by. Cliiiiiiiick on back to read more.

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  1. What a great twist on home visits! I started my teaching career as a Head Start preschool teacher and home visits were required. You learn so much and connect in ways that simply cannot be done in the classroom. I love the ways you work to connect, not only with your students, but their families as well. Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. When I used to teach preschool I did parent-teacher conferences in the families' homes. And in my Head Start internship in DC many years ago I did home visits of a sort. Both were great. I find much more distancing happening in elementary, sometimes for good reason. But it's never been my bent. Glad you liked it. Kathleen

  2. Your blog post made me smile. I love the witty car pick. Happy Sunday!

    1. Thanks Lynnea. Some days are wittier than others... :) Kathleen

  3. I love reading your blog, I wish all kindergarten teachers were like you! I have been having a hard time copying people's emails from the various sign in sheets I have, so I think I'm going to move towards having them send me an email as well. Had a lot of emails bounce this week!

    1. Aaargh. I hate doing email corrections! It is so hard to read parents' handwriting that I would have to guess numerous times before getting it right. Having them email is much better... but you'll still have to track SOME down. sigh. Nice to hear something was useful today. Kathleen

  4. I loved reading your sunday scoop! So much fun and a great read! Love the smart car, I had one for my 16th birthday - many moons ago now! I loved it and miss it so bad! Mine was deep pink with glitter in the paint and silver then, it was fabulous!

    Laundry - AGGHH i hate the word!!

    Teaching Autism

    1. You know it is now Sunday night and I STILL didn't do the laundry. I did wash the Smart though... does that count? And your old one does sound FABulous. See you later. Kathleen

  5. I love your blog and the cartoon picture! I can't wait to use the measurement note! Deb

  6. Thanks, Deb. I'm glad you like it. Jonathan set up my blog (to my specifications perfectly) and illustrated my avatar. It is handy having a husband who's an illustrator! Wish he wasn't so busy. Thanks for stopping by. Kathleen

  7. What a fun post! That's your car? Love it.
    I think the mini-home visits you describe are a neat idea. In the neighborhood where I teach though, I'm afraid they would find it intrusive, like I was spying on them. I bet it would go over really well in the neighborhood where I live though!
    Not very fancy

    1. Yep, not for everybody in every situation, but they go over so well for me, that I felt I had to post just to spark ideas. Thanks for stopping by, Deb. Kathleen


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