This is the first in a 3-part series about ways to strengthen communication between school and home/community. If you don't do so already, incorporate one or more of the strategies shared during the series and reply with the results below.
Looking for ways to get your students parents and caregivers involved in the learning process? One way I've found very engaging is having parent or community volunteers come into my classroom and read to students. Having your student's caregivers come in to read provides lots of benefits for your students, the volunteers, and for you as a teacher. Students, through read alouds, develop their decoding and fluency skills along practicing comprehension strategies. Depending on how volunteers choose books, volunteers share parts of themselves as well as their interests with the kids. They also contribute to buidling a positive classroom and school environment. As an educator, you see how their students respond when hearing another adults read, build positive rapport with the volunteers, and get a moment to relax during a long day of learning! You might even learn about some new series or author you can use in the class, which was always a great thing for me, especially in my early years of teaching.
Here's a few pointers to make guest readers work well in your class:
- Let parents pick books or have some available for them to choose. Have them let you know in advance so you have a heads up on what's being read.
- Tell students a few days in advance. It builds the excitement, especially if it's a complete surprise for a student in the class to have their caregiver come in and read. It helps if the readers have a kid-friendly name, like Rockstar Readers or Mystery Readers.
- Have an extra book or two on hand in case there's extra time. We read aloud faster than we expect at times, as I found out reading to a first grade classroom as a parent. Fortunately, I had a few books on hand I was able to read three books to them during the time we had.
- Get the biggest learning bang for your buck. Use the opportunity to practice reading strategies. Align book selections to what you're studying. Use the book as a launch into another lesson activity. Whatever you do, be strategic in using this reading time wisely.
- Don't let distance, resources or time limit participation! If parents have a few minutes, access to a webcam or smartphone, and the book of choice, they can do it too. Parents can record themselves reading to students. Play it back during the read aloud time or another time during the day that works for your class. No physical books at home? No problem! Just upload one of Big Universe's ebooks and reading can start in seconds!
- Be sure to thank them publically. Whether it's a verbal thank you, a note of appreciation, or some class-created gift, showing appreciation for them taking time to read to your class is a great way to have repeat readers come in.
How do these [or other] tips help you in having guest readers in your classroom?