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As I write this post, teachers are busy preparing their classrooms to receive students on Wednesday. An integral part of the back-to-school preparation that isn’t seen by students or families is goal setting. Each summer teachers and administrators set personal and division-wide goals and commit to checking in with a supervisor throughout the course of the year. As outlined in my recent back-to-school letter, the two initiatives that the teachers in the Lower Division and I will focus on this year are documenting student learning and parent communication.

When educators document learning as it happens in a classroom, that evidence tells a story to anyone who views it. Viewing this of evidence with colleagues, coaches, educational leaders, and yes, even parents, benefits both teachers and students. It makes learning visible and provides incredible insight into next steps, student needs, curricular directions, instructional strategies and more! Together, the Lower Division faculty and I will tackle the question, “How can documentation help to further student understanding?” This question was at the heart of the learning at Project Zero (www.pz.harvard.edu) where seven Lower Division faculty and I took part in a summer institute dedicated to investigating the nature of intelligence, understanding, thinking, creativity and more.

In addition to thinking about documenting learning, the Lower Division faculty and I were inspired by the article, The Positive Results of Parent Communication, which stated,

“Parents and teachers are two of the most important contributors to a student’s educational success. When parents and teachers communicate well with one another, they are able to support student learning together. As such, communication between home and school is vital.”

The article sparked curiosity about how, what, and how often we communicate with parents, which led to a day-long summer workshop that I had the great opportunity to co-lead with Katrina Mills, Lower Division Math Specialist. Lower Division faculty analyzed the cycle of teacher-to-parent communication over the course of one school year and our conversations resulted in setting division-wide goals for effective and predictable parent communication in 2016-17. I am confident that the work we engaged in around this topic will build even stronger relationships with families.

As the school year unfolds, I look forward to the delight both you and your child will experience as you watch the classroom come to life.Take time to notice the bulletin boards. Pause to appreciate the process that leads to your child’s ever growing understanding. Enjoy the regular communication you receive from your child’s classroom teacher and most importantly, use the content of that communication to ask your child about their day.


Members of the Lower Division Team at Project Zero this past July