It’s that time again! Well, uh, for those of us not in Australia or other places like South Korea that start the school year in Feb/March… I am talking about Back to School Time, obviously. Some teachers have already recently opened their doors to a new class of students, while others are just a few weeks away.
While getting my classroom ready and lesson plans prepped (just kidding, no lessons have been prepped yet) I’ve been reflecting on how I start every school year. I decided to do a series of blog posts about Teacher-Parent Communication. The one thing they never taught us eager educators in college. Yeah, it’s a gross oversight if you ask me.
For the next four blog posts I will cover the following topics:
- Start Positive (this post!)
- Build a Community
- Value Your Parents Expertise
- Take Notes!
At the beginning of every school year I want my first form of communication with my students’ parents to be a POSITIVE one. Because there may come an email or phone call not too long after… that is not entirely positive. First impressions are important. Imagine if the first thing your students do when they meet you is pointing out all of your flaws as a teacher? Ew.
Therefore, I make it a goal to send a positive note home, about each one of my students, within the first two weeks of school. This keeps me accountable to get to know something about all of my students quickly and see specific skills, talents, or behaviors they have that add value to our class. I am a firm believer that every child who comes into my class adds value.
How you send this positive note home is up to you. I tried doing physical notes home and sometimes they wouldn’t make it to the parents (because I teach the littles). I have worked at schools where we are not allowed to call directly, and I have worked at schools that have not allowed me to email parents directly (yes, that’s a real thing, and it was hard). It depends on where you are and what works best for you. I have landed on sending emails.
Here are two examples of emails I sent at the beginning of last year. I changed the names but the rest is the same. Find something specific about each student to give positive feedback on. They don’t need to be long. My goal is to send home two or three a day, the first two weeks of school. You may be wondering if two weeks to get a note home is still too long to hear from the teacher, especially if you teach younger kids who are just beginning their educational journeys. Because I don’t have any visible superpowers (yet) and don’t have the time or energy to do 25 emails within one week, especially the first week of school, I make sure to communicate with the entire class of parents what we do in the first few days of school. (I cover this more in Part 2: Build a Community.)
Email Example 1:
Hello Mr. and Mrs. Smith,
I wanted to send you a quick note to tell you how much I love having Jane in class. She is responsible and kind, and always helping me remember things I may forget. She’s a great classmate, too!
Email Example 2:
Hello Mr. and Mrs. Robinson,
Joe made my heart smile big time today! He had a few tearful moments this morning as he is learning all of the new classroom routines. Joe couldn’t remember his floor spot, so he didn’t move to the rug when the rest of the class did. I asked him why he stayed in his chair and was impressed when he was able to communicate, “I forgot where my spot was.”
This afternoon he gave me a quick side hug when entering the classroom after putting stuff in our cubbies 🙂 I look forward to getting to know Joe better this year!
Who can’t wait for the never ending sea of laminating and cutting to begin?!
Parent Communication Part Two: Build a Community, is up next!