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Author Bio: Kate Todd is married to a wonderful husband and has 3 amazing boys, so life tends towards the chaotic. She is currently working at Mount Annan Christian College which is located near Sydney, Australia. The focus of the school is to become more innovative in its use of learning spaces and technology. She has been a teacher for about 20 years, starting in small country towns in Northern New South Wales. She really enjoys being creative, trying to find ways that will make her lessons interesting and engaging.

The first few years when I started teaching, which were mainly as a casual teacher, were a bit of a struggle, in terms of relating to parents. The moment I realised that each student was connected to a family, made that process of relating to parents much easier. Logical? It is of course, but sometimes in the day to day dealings with notes, lesson plans and playground duties that sometimes can be forgotten.

A way that we have approached connecting with families this year, is through a “Reachmeet”. The inspiration comes from the current trend of Professional development of a “Teachmeet”. A Teachmeet is a great way of teachers getting together, sharing ideas and learning from one another. They are a source of new ideas, views and connections open to any teacher willing to come along and have a cup of coffee.

The format for our Reachmeet was along the same principles as a Teachmeet. The aim of our Reachmeet was to be a relaxing and informative evening. We decided on 6 workshops from information and questions that we had received from parents about their child’s education. Our introductory session was based on the many changes that have been happening in Education and how they relate to our school.

Our six workshops were led by teachers, where parents could choose which sessions they would like to attend. We chose the following 6 topics which went for a 20 minutes each. Parents were given the choice to attend 3 of them.

Our workshops were:

  1. Daily 5 literacy: based on the work of the 2 sisters Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. This workshop looked at the format and reading strategies that are used in Daily 5.

  2. Mathematics: “How do you do Multiplication now?” This workshop focused on some of the mathematics strategies, especially multiplication, that are currently being taught, to help parents have a greater understanding of them.

  3. Blogging: Parents were shown how their class blogs can help them to stay in touch with their child’s education. They were shown how they could interact with their child’s learning by commenting on the blog too.

  4. Reading at Home: The aim was to help parents with reading at home by using a strategy called “Pause, Prompt and Praise”.

  5. Social Skills: This was a popular session! It was looking briefly at children’s development and how parents can help their children with relationships at school.

  6. Collaborative Teaching: This workshop looked at team or collaborative teaching and the benefits for students.

The evening proved to be very successful, with many parents showing interest and finding the information beneficial. Our school is planning to hold another evening like this because it has strengthened the connection between school and families. Information and ideas shared over a coffee and a giggle are sometimes what is needed to help build community.