Archive for the ‘How To’ Category

How to blow your first parent teacher conference?

The idea of preparing for a parent teacher conference or any new birth of parent relationships should begin long before actual face-to-face contact with a child’s teacher is established. Parents in concept are the first and primary teacher in a student’s life so don’t become one of my colleagues that two-steps without their key cohort on the dance floor.

One of the most valuable tips for engaging your student’s parent(s) before conference is to establish a non-biased relationship and well-prepared conference prior to meeting them on cookie and juice night. I set a goal each semester to contact each parent or guardian with positive reports at least twice before dropping the F bomb let alone before meeting them in person.

You will do everyone a big service by researching the family and community [if unfamiliar] prior to what I call the interview. There’s nothing worst than getting a name wrong or assuming we all share the same cultural beliefs. So do your homework, do your homework, do your homework.

One thing I learned early on was to maintain high expectations for my students and their parents. Regardless to how things appear and develop, staying focused on high expectations trumps all other methods of taking point on the war against apathy.

For your convenience I have listed a few post to help with successful parent teacher conferences:

7 Steps to Becoming an Effective Teacher

Why is it so difficult to contact my student’s parents?

Five Simple Steps to Making That Call Home to Parents

Create a floor plan that flows from your classroom door.

Actions to take for having your best year teaching in 2010

Stay focused. Stay confident and you’ll blow wind in your sails!

Your Best Year Teaching: If you have been inspired from this article please consider leaving a comment and subscribing to the RSS feed (top right column) to have future post delivered to your feed reader. Please send your friends to to connect with me or @laroncarter on Twitter.

LiLTweeks: The Philosophy of Winning, Part 1

“True character in a winner is not boiled down to one event or situation. Winners are made of the stuff that can get back up, dust off the dirt, wipe away the tears, ignore the stinky smell you’ve stepped into, and focus through the pain with confidence to perform better next time the whistle blows.”

(Note: Philosophy of Winning is an excerpt from soon to be published Special Report on Winning)

Winning or even being a winner means something different to just about anyone you ask to share their thoughts on the subject. Straight talk on it is, even though many of us buy into what others think it means to be a winner, what you personally believe and how you feel about it is what brings out the champion in you.

Believe you are a winner, even when no one else does.

Say it like you mean it, “I’m a winner and there’s nothing you can do about it.” What does that feel like? In high school I was part of a group of guys called Hard, Inc. We were cut from a unique breed of athletes, walking around chanting how fine we were, long before MC Hammer wrote, “Can’t Touch This.”

My grandmother would often tell me, “It’s not always what you say, but how you say it, that wins friends and creates enemies.” Before long I learned that you can look at competition the same way. Nana could have easily said, “It’s not the win or loss that matters, but how you played the game, that makes you a winner?” (To be continued. . . )

LiLTweeks (Lessons I Learned This Week) is a weekly observation of some problems I’ve encountered and possible actions for resolve. If you have been inspired from this article please leave a comment and consider subscribing to the RSS (top right column) to have future post delivered to your feed reader [look for Weekend Post].

7 Steps to Becoming an Effective Teacher

Photo Credit by Just Me

You’ve gone to school, graduated from the college of education, hopefully negotiated more than what they offered you on the union negotiated step level contract, and now you are learning that teaching in K-12 environments aren’t the same classrooms you sat in as a kid. Here are some tips for acquiring effective teacher skill sets so you can reduce the stress and begin teaching with more confidence.


Get you hands on valuable information available from student CA-60 background folders. Documents like IEP’s and medical records provide a snap shot into the student’s academic story as a valuable first source for gathering information. A pit stop to the office several times a week on the way to planning hour or lunch can pay big dividends. You’re a pro, so tap the most obvious info resources before forming a misinformed hypothesis.

Gather current contact information of parents and guardians. You might want to include cell numbers of big brothers and sisters (both siblings and from United Way mentors). Be sure to note phone service carriers, off peak times, and texting plans so that you don’t get screened out unnecessarily. Research shows that many families are more likely to use cell phones as primary phone lines for calling contacts and Internet use so add primary email addresses in your contact list as needed.

Create well-written icebreaker activities. Loosening up the atmosphere not only gets your students connected to each other, but also gives you a starting point for valuable organized intel on your little darlings. Discovering whether a student has a favorite pet that’s sick or has been moving around a lot because of complicated family circumstances will help you more clearly identify classroom problems and develop “how to” solutions.

Do a walk around. The wonderful thing about venturing out into the neighborhoods of your school and meeting the people who live there and work in the retail stores, repair shops, and laundry mats is it gives you an understanding of its culture. You will also find out what works for the community as well as the problems needing to be fixed. Information from the pulse of a community, at ground level, helps to better understand outside issues brought into your classroom.

Make it a rule to contact each parent on your roster at least twice with heart felt positive reports before having to rat a student out. Parents that get regular negative calls from school personnel are a little punchy when seeing the call come in on caller ID. By establishing a genuine service connection with parents, based on trust and credibility, you can easily recruit them as part of your classroom management and support team member for special events.

Create a phone list of highly qualified substitute teachers [from colleagues and secretaries] that are capable of handling your students while you are away from the classroom. Substitutes will always have their work cut out for them, but some will have skill sets that return your students back in one piece and on task to pick up where you left off.

Teach your students to respect substitute teachers before you need to call one in to teach. You may not need a sub often, but incorporating a plan instructing students of proper etiquette practices and consequences establishes standards in your absence that will praise or reprimand behaviors upon your return. The best substitute teachers will want to teach for you if they know you have set them up to succeed.

P.S. If you have been inspired from this article please consider leaving a comment and subscribing to the RSS feed (top right column) to have future post delivered to your feed reader. Please send your friends to to connect with me or @laroncarter on Twitter.