The school year is right around the corner for us. We start teacher professional development days tomorrow and students arrive next week. Those not keyed in to the inner workings of school would think that student and family connections might wait until the grand start, but that isn’t really the case.
Last night we held a Kindergarten parent orientation, followed this morning by a Kindergarten orientation event for students and parents. In the evening parent event we try to answer those questions that are very familiar to elementary educators…it’s a lot about the details…lunch, recess, buses…that kind of stuff. Just because it’s regular doesn’t make it any less powerful. For parents this helps provide a sense of trust and assurance that they need moving in to the school year.
The same is true of the morning event when our young scholars visit a school that’s not quite set up yet. Think of it, not only do they get to come in and meet their teachers and classmates, but they get the whole building to themselves! They are so special that we open our doors just for them and their parents! During their visit they explore the classrooms, parents fill out a ton of information (we’re working on that!) and everyone gets to connect names with faces. This experience is so valuable for everyone involved. As educators we have an opportunity to make the best of first impressions on our scholars and their families. For parents this represents the culmination of a long journey…that’s suddenly going to start moving pretty fast!
This year I crunched the numbers. I took a good long look at the data about who attended our events, which I think are extremely valuable to our scholars, and those that didn’t. I did this not to single out or target anyone, but instead to learn how we can do better as a school to improve this experience and make sure that we get all our scholars and families here. It was a very big reality check for me to look at the numbers, create percentage points of attendance during both events. The data clearly showed that we’re missing a chunk of our population, likely a chunk that would truly benefit from that experience.
Staff sensed this as well immediately brainstorming things that could be done differently next year. Things like:
- doing away with the evening event (lowest percentage attendance) and combining it with the day event (highest percent attendance by parents) so we get more of that information to parents and are more efficient with our efforts
- providing more of our in-person presentation information in print and online. Right now we have a great slideshow that we speak from, but wouldn’t provide information if it were posted.
- offering multiple opportunities
- someone even mentioned doing home visits instead
Either way I would say it’s not only worth paying attention to these “little” connections as you gear up for the school year, but it’s also good to measure your efforts and see how it’s really impacting scholars.