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The City Journals

Lincoln Elementary builds parent-teacher teams

Oct 31, 2016 02:26PM ● By Aspen Perry

Teacher Sydney Johnson, ESL specialist Tiffany Liddell, and parents participate in Johnson's warm-up activity for parents on APTT night. (Aspen Perry/City Journals)

By Aspen Perry|[email protected]

On October 5 at 5 p.m., Principal Afton Lambson, waited inside the entry of Lincoln Elementary School eager to greet and direct parents for the school’s first Academic Parent Teacher Team (APTT) meeting. 

APTT will replace the traditional Student Education Plan (SEP) parent-teacher conference model in an effort to break from the negative connotation of parent-teacher meetings, and provide practical applications to assist parents. 

“APTT are shown to get parents involved in a positive way, building a support for students at school and at home,” said fifth-grade teacher Adam Dahlberg.

The purpose of the more traditional SEP model is for the teacher to communicate student progress and set new goals with the parent’s involvement. However, some educators feel the SEP model falls short because it does not provide parents with the tools necessary to help their child reach the goals set during parent-teacher meetings.

“Parent-teacher conferences is more of a sit down and listen while the teacher…gives you way too much data,” Dahlberg said. 

APTT was created to establish a collaborative relationship between parents and teachers. In addition to setting a foundation that encourages, it empowers parents to be involved in their child’s education. 

“[APTT] model gives some data, but more importantly with APTT we give the parents activities and strategies to take home,” Dahlberg said. 

As parents made their way to their child’s classroom the teachers waited outside to greet them and help them feel at ease. 

First-grade teacher, Sydney Johnson’s presentation included a warm-up activity, assisted by ESL specialist, Tiffany Liddell. Johnson began by showing parents one white balloon with “education” written on the balloon and then asked parents to get into a circle and try to keep the balloon from dropping. 

As parents tried to keep the education balloon afloat, Johnson threw other blue balloons in the mix, naming each as she did. 

“Now we have to keep work afloat, here’s grocery shopping, can’t forget to pay bills...” Johnson said.

Parents smiled as they did their best to keep the balloons in the air. The purpose of the activity showed not only how easy it is to let the education balloon drop, but that  Johnson understands what parents have on their plate.

“[APTT goal] is to let parents know, teachers are there as a support system for their child’s success,” Lambson said.   

Another interesting feature of the APTT model is the concept of home visits, which allow teachers to visit their students and get to know the student’s family. Though home visits were initially met with some apprehension, students and parents overall have had a positive response to home visits. 

One way Lincoln Elementary teachers and staff created some excitement around home visits, was to create a “Home Visit Selfie Wall” where students take photos with their teachers showing the fun they had during their visit. 

“[The selfie wall] has really helped create excitement while reiterating to students they are not in trouble,” Dahlberg said. 

Dahlberg further explained when teachers visit the homes of their students, the focus is not about school. Instead they get to know the family by asking questions such as: What hobbies does your child enjoy? What do they enjoy doing as a family? 

The main purpose of the home visits, which can also take place at a nearby park or coffee shop if that is what the parents prefer, is for teachers to offer parents another level of support. 

Despite a lower number of parents in attendance than hoped, being that APTT is new, teachers are optimistic the next meeting will have a better turn out. 

The next APTT meeting at Lincoln Elementary will be held Feb. 2 at 5 p.m.