Today I got one of the most positive, encouraging emails I have ever received. A student’s grandmother wrote to me and she said how much she appreciated my class blog. She recognized the values that I am trying to teach my students, and she appreciates the variety of activities and experiences that I provide. This grandma is a former high school teacher and comments regularly on our class blog and her granddaughter’s KidBlog. (Yes, you read that correctly…all of my students also have their own, individual blogs. You can see them here.) It is wonderful to know when someone appreciates the effort I have put into creating this online presence for my class.
It is not unusual to receive a note of thanks or appreciation for the work I do, but it is definitely the first time that I have received an email from a grandparent. More unusual is the fact that this grandma lives on the island of Maui, not in my local community. My student’s family had shared our class blog half way around the world and I cannot begin to describe the feeling of excitement that this generates in me!
You see, the reason I started kinderpals.ca was exactly what this grandma was thanking me for. She now has a connection to her granddaughter that she wouldn’t have if I hadn’t opened a “window” into my classroom. The whole reason behind starting my website was to provide that glimpse into the every day goings on in my kindergarten (now K/1) class so that parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, other classes and my own colleagues could see what was happening in the KinderPals class.
I started kinderpals.ca three years ago because of a teacher’s strike. Part of the strike mandate was that I couldn’t write traditional report cards, but I could contact parents to let them know about their child’s progress in an alternate way. And so, kinderpals.ca came into being. I hoped that by providing parents with a description of some of our day-to-day activities and photos of their children at work and play, I could actually give them a better understanding of how their child was doing at school without actually writing formal, traditional report cards. By seeing their child’s work every day, the parents were actually gaining more information about their child’s schooling. And I believe this instance of turning lemons into lemonade (because nobody wins in a strike situation) actually made me a better teacher. Not only have parents told me how thrilled they are to see their child’s work, they are also excited to share our website with their friends and family around the world.
I don’t teach for the accolades, or acknowledgement. I teach because I want to make an impact in children’s lives and help them grow into lifelong learners. Through my class blog I hope I have included the families of my students into our learning community in a way I couldn’t in the past. It is a true joy to receive comments on our website from those that take the time to read what we post and I am absolutely thrilled that I can facilitate communication and connections between my students and the important people in their lives.