Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Intra-School Communication & Self-Esteem

This information was originally written in 2012.

The following article discusses communication within middle-level schools and families.  Communication between the teachers, parents, students, and faculty is extremely important.  When everybody is involved, it creates the best learning environment for the students.  It can also help address and resolve serious issues such as self-esteem.  There is a large variety of ways to communicate within schools, including conferences, newsletters, meetings, as well as other forms.  Communication sets the students up for success.

The article also covers how to communicate when self-esteem issues arise in students.  The article assess do's and don'ts for communicating when there are students who lack self-esteem.

Intra-School Communication

Informal Parent Conferences

Parents are usually contacted about minor issues.  If there is a major issue, such as a concern about self-esteem, a more formal conference may be needed, which could include principals and guidance counselors.  Parents are usually notified about issues via e-mail or telephone.  Once the parents are notified, face-to-face meetings are set up before or after school.

Faculty and Staff Announcements and Newsletters

Faculty information is usually sent through e-mail.  Faculty members also have individual mailboxes.  It is also important for teachers to communicate with other teachers in person.  

It would never be announced in a newsletter that a student has a self-esteem issue.  If there were to be a newsletter or staff announcement about self-esteem, it would provide information about the topic or include tips on how to work with children with self-esteem issues.

Schedules for Team and Faculty Meetings

Teachers who teach the same grade or subject tend to collaborate together.  This allows all the classes to stay on the same pace so one class is not further ahead than the other.  Collaboration also allows for teachers to share lesson plans, activities, or assignments.  

Teachers have planning times before school, after school, or during free periods.  Meetings may occur daily, weekly, or sometimes monthly, depending on the school district.  However, the more often the meetings, the better.   

A topic like self-esteem would most likely come up in an IEP meeting.  Meetings can be effective for discussing students with self-esteem issues.  Teachers can brainstorm strategies to help students and also share strategies that have worked in each classroom or for a particular student.  

Guidance, Advisory Groups, Mentoring, and Peer Mediation Groups

Teachers, guidance counselors, and parents are all mentors to students.  Guidance counselors are available if students have an issues or concerns about anything.  If a student feels that they have a self-esteem issue, the guidance counselor is a good person to talk to as they should provide advice and encouragement. 

Many schools have advisory groups.  Some schools may meet once a week, while others are once a month.  The advisory groups may take up some of homeroom and class time, creating an alternate schedule for an advisory day.  During these group meetings, a teacher or leader will bring up a topic, and the students have the freedom to discuss their feelings on the topic.  An example of a topic could be honesty.  Teachers may bring up self-esteem issues, but in a less offensive manner, such as asking what makes a student feel bad.

Flexible Scheduling for Acceleration, Remediation, and Special Interests

Schools try to be as flexible as possible when scheduling so that students are in the appropriate level classes.  Accelerated students will be in advanced or gifted classes, giving them more of a challenge and independence.  Students at a lower level may require special education or be in a remedial class.  Students who need extra help may have an aid or go to a resource room for extra help.

Students take specials or cycle classes that include -- but are not limited to – art, music, and gym.  These classes give students a chance to learn about something that is appealing to them.

Scheduling is usually done by guidance counselors, but parents and teachers have a say in recommending the classes a student should take.

Teachers Roles and Responsibilities in Co-curricular and Service Activities

Many teachers put in their own time and take roles and responsibilities in co-curricular and service activities.  Some popular jobs include student council, clubs, coaching sports teams, and running various school activities.  Teachers will volunteer,do something meaningful, and try to get the students involved.  Some teachers may also do some type of service within their classrooms such as food drives or pen-pals.  

Self-esteem plays a role in extra-curricular activities.  By getting involved, students will feel better about themselves knowing that they are making a difference, or they may find something they are good at, like playing an instrument.  Teachers can motivate and praise students in these activities inside and outside of the classroom which helps self-esteem issues.

School/Family Communication

Class and School-wide Newsletters

Schools typically send home monthly or weekly newsletters that highlight many different happenings within the school. Student accomplishments, upcoming topics that will be covered, upcoming projects with due dates, calendar of school events, pictures, and school activities are just a few things that may be found in a newsletter.

Student Progress Reports/Report Cards

Report cards highlight the strengths and weaknesses of students.  Graded report cards are sent home at the end of each marking period.  They may include comments along with the student's letter or number grade.  Sometimes, they may include resources for improvement.  Many schools send out progress reports during the middle of the semester which show where the students currently stand in the marking period.

A concern about self-esteem would not be published on a report card.  A more formal, in-person approach would be taken.

Parent Conference Invitations, Procedures

Schools typically have set conference days which take place instead of the school day.  Parents are encouraged to make appointments with their child's teachers.  Teachers may request to meet with a parent if there is a concern.  Conferences may also be set up at any time if a parent or teacher feels it is necessary.  

During conferences, teachers and parents discuss strengths and weaknesses while reviewing student work.  Teachers may give some insight on how the student can improve and provide resources.  Goals can also be set for the students.

Conferences are a good opportunity for parents to bring up concerns such as self-esteem.  The teacher will become aware and possibly provide ways to help.

Parenting Workshop Information

Some schools provide workshops for parents which provide tips on how parents can help with their child's school work.

There may be some workshops specifically on how to help students with self-esteem issues.  These workshops may give tips on how they can help their child cope with this issue and gain confidence.

Class and Team Created Displays and Projects

Schools are usually decked out with different artwork and projects that the students have created.  Classrooms are filled with recent projects that the students have completed.  When new projects are completed, the old ones are sent home to families, and the new ones will decorate the walls.

Groups of students may also work on display cases in the hallways which promote some sort of theme that is occurring in the school at that point in time.

Home and School Organization Communication

Each student gets an assignment book in which they write their homework assignments for the week.  Many teachers require parents to sign the assignment book to verify that the homework was completed and that the parent knows what the child is working on.  Some teachers also have tests and quizzes signed.  Many schools also have programs in which they can upload grades and assignments online that the students and parents can check.

Some schools send home weekly folders with papers with upcoming events.  The students are distributed information during homeroom.

Several involved parents keep in touch with teachers through e-mail so they know what is going on at school. 

Co-Curricular and Service Activities

Many students are involved in extra-curricular activities, which means the parents are as well.  Parents can provide encouragement by attending their child's sporting event.  Parents may also need to provide transportation to these activities, so it is important that a parent knows what is going on in the child's life.  Many parents may also be involved in extra-curricular activities.  They may also volunteer alongside with their children.  They may run events that are held at school.  They also may be the homeroom parent or have a position with the Parent Teacher Association.

Having family alongside can increase self-esteem because it creates a sense of belonging.

Leveling for Acceleration and Remediation

Parents have a say in where they think their child should be placed.

Family Support Services

There are numerous family support services across the country.  If a student is having a self-esteem issue, it is recommended to find a family support service that can help with that issue.  Some examples include Youth Haven, The Family Acceptance Project, and Sacred Heart Community Service.

Other Evidence of School-to-Family Communication

The existence of the Parent Teacher Association is good proof that there is communication between schools and families.  Parents can bring their ideas into the school, and the schools can listen through this association.


How do these artifacts contribute to, and support, the life of the school and community?

These artifacts make the school a better learning environment.  It creates a tight knit community where students, teachers, and parents feel comfortable communicating with each other.  It pushes for parental involvement, and when parents are involved, students seem to be more successful.  In addition, these artifacts help address the needs of an important issue like self-esteem.

Which artifacts seem to significantly support intra-school communication?

Parent conferences and team meetings significantly support intra-school communication because both parents and teachers are working to meet the needs of the students.  The students are put first, and ideas are created that will help the students the best.  As a teacher, the student's  best interest should always be first.

Which artifacts seem to significantly support school/family communication?

Home and school organization and class and school-wide newsletters are significant because they have the most connection between the school and family.  Things are sent from the school to the home, or vise-versa, linking the two.  This keeps the family connected with the school and involved with their children.

How do these artifacts define and describe the role of a middle-level teacher?

These artifacts provide advice on what effective teachers should do.  It is important for teachers to have good communication skills.  It is important to communicate not only to students, but to parents and other teachers.  It is also important for the teacher to get involved and do things that are in the best interest for the students, even if it includes getting the parents involved.  

How do these artifacts define and describe how faculty the teamwork and collaboration contribute to the success of the school?

It is important for teachers to collaborate with other teachers because it keeps all the classes on the same pace.  Teachers are able to share ideas for lessons.  Teachers can also share effective strategies that work for the same particular group of students.

How might the materials meet the needs of the many diverse cultures and varying abilities and learning styles represented in the school population?

Through teaming and collaboration, teachers can think of ideas that will appeal to all diversities, learning styles, and abilities.  Teachers will collaborate to find differentiation.  By working with parents, students can also learn more about the students and get ideas from parents.  Parents know their child better than the teacher, so parents can share the child's interest or background, which could potentially be used to help their ability to learn.

For a problem like self-esteem, working with parents can help the teacher better understand what the student is going through.  Teachers will be aware, and be a little more sympathetic and do their best to help the student.

What opportunities exist for parents, family members, and community members to become involved in classroom and school activities?

There are several opportunities for parents, families, and community members to get involved in the school.  Parents can become a member of the Parent Teacher Association, become a homeroom parent, or simply volunteer at schools.  There are plenty of volunteer opportunities within the school for anyone, such as reading to a class or helping out at a school fundraiser.

How does the school/district demonstrate its roles and advocates for young adolescents?

Through advocacy groups, the students become aware of their roles.  Discussions take place about what the right thing to do is.  Teachers also encourage hard work and achievement.  Students realize that teachers, guidance counselors, other staff members, and parents are some role models.  This is done by having the teachers act as role models and as a strong support system.

What, if any, information about specific advocacy issues is represented in intra-school communication?

Students participate in advocacy or advisory classes that help address some moral issues.  Students are aware that guidance counselors are available if there is a problem, such as self-esteem.

What, if any, information about specific advocacy issues are represented in school/family/ communication artifacts?

Guidance, advisory groups, mentoring, and peer mediation groups are represented in the artifacts.  These examples gives the students people to talk to when an issue comes up or a comfortable place to talk about such issues.



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