Re how can I break the ice with parents to get them more involved:
Well, for one thing, with parent help you can do some things that you
might not otherwise be able to do without their help. I use parents in
our sewing project where kids design, cut felt, sew and embroider
stuffed animals. I don't put a limit on how many parents can help
because so many want to! I ask for a minumum or 3 per class, but I
usually have 6 or so! I'm teaching 3rd graders to do a lot of
embroidery stitches. I'm only one person! This year I am using parents
to help in metalsmithing with my sixth graders because I have a larger
class than usual and safety is an issue with them only being in 6th
grade. I'll have a mother who stays by the torch all the time, freeing
me up to watch them saw with more supervision, teach them how to safely
use hammers, etc. I have 14 kids in that class. Teaching 12 safely was
my limit. They just had to wait to do some things until I could get
there. Now I can actually teach them more. Parent's love it...they get
to make a bracelet too!
When we started our art a la carte program, we had seen it working at
another school and asked our principal if we could do it at SJS. We
bought the program from them along with slides the first year. We
talked it up and found some parents who were interested in helping to
bring it into SJS. One mom volunteered to head the parent docent team,
and from that point on, we modeled it after the other school's program,
but then made it totally our own program done our way after the second
year. We're in our 15th year this year. We had 80 parent volunteers
last year for the program. THey team taught each lesson with 3 people.
Our parents are pretty travelled and cultured. They have a lot to offer
the program and the MOST all of them do a great job. We have our
training this week. I'll be so glad when it's over...it's the last
official opening shindig I have to do.
When you have parent volunteers, it takes thank you notes or a thank you
tea at the end of the year. I try to write thank you notes each week to
the parents who presented. They have about 12 lessons in 3rd grade, but
in the other grades, they have between 4 and 8 units a year. If you
keep up with the thank you notes it's not bad, but if you pile them all
up til the end of the year, look out! Killer.
You just have to let them know you would love to have them and make them
feel special, like they are helping you to do something that otherwise
you could not do! They love to know they can do more than xerox, and
the kids love having their parents in class. It also gives them a
chance to see what we go through as teachers and teaches some empathy
for us as well!
Visit our student's web art gallery at St.John's School
click on "Stories of SJS," click on "Arts Stories," click on Linda
Woods' name. View artwork by Lower, and Middle School students as well
as our art archives.