Middle school is the land of in between Too old for elementary school and all of those ways. Too young for high school and all the freedoms and responsibilities that go with it. It’s that in between zone, learning how to manage different teachers with different expectations, learning how to manage homework and studying, learning that your best friend for the last 6 years may now decide that you are not cool enough or popular enough to be BFFs, learning that the world is bigger and wider than you ever knew with so many new things to discover and explore. For parents, it’s the beginning of figuring out how to step back a little bit, the beginning of letting go, the discovery that the new answer to “how was your day?” may be a monosyllabic “fine” instead of a detailed rendition of all that happened in the hours between drop off and pick up. Figuring out how to traverse this new terrain can be tricky.
Knowing that my students and their parents are both figuring out how to travel through uncharted territory is part of the reason that I write a weekly parent newsletter.
- It lets parents know about the things we are doing in class. It is a chance for them to hear about the math and about the why behind what we are doing. I use Connected Math, a constructivist curriculum, as my primary curriculum. The curriculum is very different than what most parents experienced. Many of them expect to see a math class that tells how to do something, gives examples of it being done, and then has students practice the skill. Since that is not what they get with CMP, the weekly newsletter is a chance for me to explain to parents what the big ideas are in the week’s lessons and why we are doing it this way.
- It lets parents see that I build in intentional review as a regular part of each day. This lets them know that we are going to keep working on something until every student has mastered it even if the main thrust of the lesson has moved on to new ideas.
- It lets parents know when important upcoming events are scheduled. They get a reminder in their inbox that there is a test coming up so they can give a friendly reminder to their student that perhaps it would be a good idea to study instead of playing Pokemon Go. While I have these dates posted on the calendar on my school website, not everyone checks it regularly. They all seem to check their email, though.
- Most importantly, it lets parents know that they are important to me. The fact that I take the time to write the newsletter every week speaks to the fact that I value them and their role in their student’s education. Letting them know that in a very tangible way helps to reinforce the message that we are a team, that we both want the best for their student.