If you asked my husband what the most life-changing moment was for him, he wouldn’t say the birth of our children or meeting me. He’d say finding out that HEB sells chopped onions in the freezer section. (Rude, right?) You see, my husband is all about efficiency. He likes to give his full attention to the more meaningful, more impactful things rather than spend precious time and energy on tedious things. Isn’t there a way to skip the watery eyes, sticky fingers and the annoyance of doing something that’s the first step in almost every meal he cooks? Wasn’t there a way to get a head-start, so he could get busy with the part that’s most meaningful?
Year after year, teachers are forced to do the same thing. They are handed a roster of student names and charged with helping those students be smarter, more academically and developmentally complete in 9 months. And every year, they start the school year doing the same thing: chopping onions...I mean...getting to know students. While this is absolutely an essential step, there is no reason teachers should have to start from scratch here. Doing so means they are in essence spending less time and energy on the more meaningful work that they uniquely positioned to do: teaching.
This doesn’t have to be the case.
Think about bacon. When we panfry bacon, we’re left with a flavor goldmine in the bottom of the skillet: renderings. This amazing concentration of goodness can provide a boost of flavor to everything from soups to roasted veggies and anything in between. Or they can be discarded. Over the last year, your child’s teachers have spent countless hours learning your son or daughter. They’ve figured out in what conditions your child thrives best. They’ve learned what kinds of lessons and which subjects pique your child’s curiosities and which don’t. These teachers have seen your child at their best and worse. And now, as the year winds down, you have to decide what to do with the renderings, the amazing concentration of information that say so much more about your child than numerical grades. Or it could be wasted.
In the same way that HEB’s precut onions give my husband a head-start and the opportunity to jump right in to what matters most in his cooking, you have the opportunity to give your child’s next teacher the opportunity to do the same. By collecting and sharing all of the knowledge and goodness that your child’s current teacher has spent the last several months figuring out, you provide continuity, allowing your child to pick up where he left off. When a teacher shares the strategies that have worked with a student in the past, the new teacher has a go-to guide, a cheatsheet of sorts that can only serve your child well. Sure, every teacher needs to get to know his/her own students, but the benefits of not starting from scratch are many–especially when list of new students is long.
To help with this, I advise my parents to use my End of the Year Reflection tool, which is great for having your child’s teacher download what’s been learned over these last few months so that information can be passed along to the next teacher. Use this tool so that when it's time to have the essential first conversation with your child's teacher, you'll have specific, meaningful information to share to help her/him best serve your child.
Click the button below to download the End of Year Reflection tool and for future access to other things in my Parent/Teacher Toolkit (including Establishing the Parent/Teacher Partnership: First Conversations).
Don't let that concentration of goodness go to waste. Click the button below to download the End of Year Reflection tool!