Building stronger families and stronger communities: Insights from Family Teachers of the Year

As a teacher working with children and parents, have you ever wished you could sit down with master teachers who came before you and ask them about their best practices? How would those conversations make a difference in your own teaching practice?

Have you ever wondered how they keep their motivation high, year after year? What lessons learned would they share? What habits did they develop? And what would they do differently, if given the chance?

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The answers to these questions, and others, would be useful information for new and experienced teachers alike.  Although we can’t sit down with every master teacher, we did have the opportunity to interview and discuss these topics with award-winning family learning teachers from across the United States.

In our published book, Stronger Families, Stronger Communities, we share insights from 20 Toyota Family Teachers of the Year.  They discuss the importance of building trust in order to build community within their classrooms.  One teacher reminds us that “no child or parent is a cookie cutter. Support each person individually. This allows you to stay fresh and grow as an educator.” And another one shares that “negative behavior is an opportunity to remind ourselves that children and adults walk in the door every day with challenges. Be part of their successes.”

There are many more pearls of wisdom that teachers echoed throughout their interviews, such as

  • Be positive!
  • Meet parents where they are.
  • Listen between the lines.
  • Make a personal connection, every day, with every student.
  • Advocate for families—collect their stories.
  • Be honest and real with students.
  • Find the humor in everyday life.
  • Read, read, read.

These top family learning teachers were generous when sharing their proven practices and strategies, and we’d like to share them with you. Check back at our Hotspot for Families Learning blog each month for additional posts.  You can also listen to several of the teachers share their insights in this webinar series or purchase Stronger Families, Stronger Communities in paperback or e-book.

We also recognize that there are many teachers in our online community who have their own pearls of wisdom to share.  What piece of advice can you offer to help other teachers?