Tags: Ask the Teacher, Education, In This Issue
Question: We are changing schools mid-year due to a job transfer. We were careful to select an area where we felt comfortable with the schools, but now that the move is about to happen, I am wondering how we can ever get up to speed with what has happened since the beginning of the year. What can I do to have a better understanding of the classes my kids are in?
As soon as possible, set up conferences with your children's teachers and with an administrator.
When meeting with the teacher, request any handouts (or web links) given out at the beginning of the school year. Inquire about the daily routine and the teacher's classroom management approach. Find out about what curriculum has been covered and ask if there are specific areas that will be the basis of other studies later in the year that you should review with your children ahead of time. If you are able to volunteer in their classrooms, take advantage of the opportunity to get an idea about the teacher's style. This will provide an important frame of reference for things your children share about school.
Help the teachers understand your children. Be open about their strengths and challenges. It may be tempting to ignore past problems, but if the teachers are aware of potential problems ahead of time, they can prepare strategies that may provide a solution. The more the teachers know about your children, the sooner they will be able to meet their needs effectively.
From the administrator, learn about attendance and school absence policies. Have him or her explain the philosophy of the building. Finally, ask about parent organizations and opportunities to volunteer so you can get some firsthand experience with your new school.
Question: Some of my son's classes aren't being taught by teachers with textbooks, but by a computer program. I am uneasy about this change, because it seems to diminish the role of the teacher. How can my son learn as much on his own as he would if a teacher were teaching the class?
Courses that are delivered through interactive computer programs promote individualization in a way that a teacher cannot. The computer program allows the students to advance at their own pace rather than being at the mercy of the general pace of the other students or of the curriculum outline.
Students will not find the roles of effective teachers diminished. Teachers will spend time monitoring individual progress and identifying where their intervention is needed for building understanding or helping students become individually responsible for their learning. Additionally, the teachers will create problem solving challenges and project opportunities to nurture student engagement that focuses on collaboration.
As with any change, teachers and students need the experience of time with the computer program provided courses to know how to maximize their effectiveness. Questions to the teacher about how this course fits into the course sequence across grade levels may alleviate your uneasiness.
Question: My fifth grade daughter has mentioned that her teacher is talking about "flipping" her classroom. What does that mean? How will it affect what my daughter is doing at home and at school?
The traditional classroom typically focuses on a teacher-provided lesson, a bit of practice and then homework to further master the skills taught in the lesson. When the classroom is "flipped," a lesson is provided outside of the classroom via video clip. The video clip may be something that the teacher created or that she obtained online. The students view the clip prior to class and come to class ready to ask questions for clarification and engage in discussions and projects with the teacher in the role of facilitator.
With this method, your daughter would use her homework time to watch and listen to the lesson for the following day. She would note questions as well as observations she has made about the new concept. Upon entering class the next day, she would be ready to ask questions based on what she learned the previous evening and then be ready to begin activities that the teacher has designed for developing student understanding. The teacher would be there to answer questions and guide your daughter to the desired outcome. A successfully "flipped" classroom should result in less stress for both student and parent at home and better utilization of the teacher's time in engaging students in a workshop atmosphere.
Ask the Teacher is written by Deb Krupowicz, a mother of four and current teacher. Deb holds a Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction and has over twenty years of experience teaching preschool, elementary and middle school students. Please send your questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org