Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sept. 22 Update

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope this message finds you well.  I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of my thoughts regarding how to support your students if they are struggling at school.  I know parents often have trouble figuring out how involved they should be when helping their students who are not doing well at school.  Some parents feel it is important to be hands off because they want to foster independence in their students and allow them the chance to advocate for themselves.  I understand this approach and agree that students – particularly 7th and 8th graders should know how to approach teachers to seek out support.  However, many students do not know how to self-advocate without guidance from adults.  Therefore, the students might not follow through with what their parents had asked them to do, or they may self-advocate in ways that lead the teachers to interpret the behaviors as any thing other than self-advocacy.

There are also parents – particularly those with younger students – who feel the advocacy needs to solely come from the parents.  Doing so may take away the opportunity for students to practice how to take charge of their own education.  Ultimately, how much parent involvement should take place would depend on the needs and maturity levels of the students.  However, the most effective approaches I have seen parents take always involved some level of communication between the parents and the teachers, as well as some level of involvement of the students in the process.  For example, I worked with a family whose student often struggled with homework completion and keeping up with the pacing of a particular class.  The parents met with the teacher when they first noticed the student was struggling, and together they devised a plan to help the student keep up with her school work as well as develop her skills to advocate for herself.  The plan involved the student and the parent sitting down to craft a message to be sent to the teachers on evenings when she struggled to complete all of her assignments.  That message, sent through the student’s email account, described the work the student was able to do that evening and proposed a plan on what she had planned to do to finish the portion that she was not able to complete that night.

When that student struggled to understand what the teacher taught in class, the parent and the student again sit down to craft a message to the teacher to request a time for the student to come for extra help.  The parents would then connect with the teacher after the scheduled extra help appointment to check to see if the student actually showed up.  If she did, the parent would ask if the teacher thought the extra help session was successful and whether the student used the time productively.

By taking this approach, the parent was able to coach her daughter the appropriate ways to advocate for herself and to monitor whether the student was following through with the plan to receive help.  Just as importantly, there is coordination between home and family, so the teacher was able to reinforce and support what the parent and the student are doing at home.

I hope all your students will have a successful school year, however, if you find yourself in a situation where your student needs your help with school, please consider taking an approach where you are connecting with the teachers while helping your student to develop his or her self-advocacy skills.  As always, I am available to support you if you need it.

Here are two reminders for the week:

Clubs and After School Activities – Many of the clubs and after school activities will be starting this coming week.  We have posted the information for each activity on our school website.  You can also access that information by clicking here.  We ask you to reach out to each club advisor directly if you have additional questions about the activities themselves.

Flu Clinic – Please see below for a message from the Winchester Health Department.

The Winchester Health Department in collaboration with the School District, is pleased to again offer flu clinics at every school this fall.  

·         On-line registration will be available on Monday, September23rd.

·         Go to: and click on the school flu vaccination icon at the bottom of the page.

·         Registration will end on October 3rd.

At the on-line registration site, you will find the information you need to sign your child up for either the FluMist nasal spray or flu shot. If you have a question after reviewing the information, please contact the Health Department at or 781-721-7121.

We encourage you to enroll your child in a school clinic. A flu vaccination is an important step in preventing the flu virus.

Thank you, and I wish a great week!

James Lin
McCall Middle School

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