This classroom management tip is one that was taught to me my first year of teaching. To tell you the truth, I had forgotten about it until this year. I started the year with a group of 4th grade students who had been in a pull-out gifted group with each other for three years. By the time I met them, they knew each other very well (a.k.a. they talked ALL. THE. TIME.)
I tried a clip chart.
I tried a strike sheet.
I tried individual behavior sheets.
And then I remembered this tip – and lo and behold! It worked like magic. And what’s even better is that I received a ton of positive feedback from my parents, and even from other teachers who saw the change in this small group of students.
First – Set-up
Take index cards and on one side write/tape a student’s name and their parent or guardian’s contact information. Leave the back blank.
Yep. That’s it. Prep work is finished.
Second – Introduce Concept to Students
When you introduce this to your students, start by simply showing them the card with their name on it. Then, ask if they notice anything. When I did this, a particularly challenging student spoke up right away:
“Um…why do you have my dad’s email on this card?”
“Why indeed…” (I like taking a few minutes to relish the element of suspense.)
Then explain the concept: Each day at the start of class one card would be pulled randomly and kept face down, away from the others. No one will know who’s card it is – not even me! At the end of class, I will check the card. Whoever’s card it is will get an email sent to their parent telling how they were in class that day. If they participated, tried, were respectful, etc. then they can expect a good report! If not, well, they can expect some honest feedback.
Third – The Implementation
A couple of keys to make this work:
- Follow through! Like any classroom management tool, you need to keep it up for it to work. But what has been great about this is that my kids are super into it – they LOVE the random/surprise aspect – and so they are now in charge of holding out the cards face down and making sure a new person picks each morning.
- Send the emails. These do not need to be huge essays that replace conferences. Only focus on that particular day. Sometimes the email is no more than a few sentences. I simply give honest feedback about how the student was in class.
- The first email I send, I include the brief introduction below. After that, I simply call it a Periodic Check-in
SAMPLE FIRST EMAIL:
I am implementing a new system in my classroom in which each day I send an email to a randomly selected student’s parents. Please feel free to ask your child for more information on this! Today, your child was selected.
In math we are diving deeper into fractions, and today we focused on adding and subtracting improper fractions. Today, *** seemed really frustrated by this concept. I know math normally comes easy to him, and I think the extra challenge was a little intimidating. Instead of attempting the problems or asking for help, he simply wrote question marks for everything. Tomorrow I will be giving more focused help on this concept, and I will be sure to talk individually to ***.
Thanks for your continued support!
Like I said, this has been a wonderful thing for my class….
- My parents have responded positively saying they love the quick snapshot of their child’s day in school. I have actually noticed differences in students when they come in the following day, because a lot of my parents have started following through at home (good emails get positive rewards, the not-so-good emails get talks about their behavior).
- My students never know who is going to get pulled, and they won’t know til the end of class, so they all try to act respectfully in case it is their card.
- My co-teachers are really impressed with the change in this group of students.
In my mind – sending a few short daily emails is a small price to pay for a classroom management system that works! Try this out and let me know your thoughts!