Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Back to School Letter (for K-12 Students)

Every year, I send a letter home to parents before the first day of school.   As you read this, you are imagining that I teach elementary school, but, in fact, I use this practice for high school students.  The back-to-school letter is beneficial at all levels of schooling.  The benefits of this letter:
  • Positive beginnings. I love that my first contact with parents is positive.
  • Unique outreach.  Among the student's teachers, this welcome letter is often a rarity, so I stand out (in a good way, I hope) to parents and guardians.  The letter sends the message that I am excited about my job, I love teaching, and that contact with the family is important.
  • Information sharing.  Within the letter, I share details about upcoming events that are unique to my subject, such as exchanges, field trips, or community opportunities.  I also let families now the address for my school website, and other information about technology that I may use during the school year. 
  • Further contact.  Sharing the best way to contact me and my availability makes me more accessible to parents.
  • Class materials.  Finally, I am able to ask students to bring binders to class, and the fact that I ask before the first day of school makes students prepared sooner for my class.
To save time, print out labels using an online grade book.  Below is a copy of the letter I typically send.  I believe it's easier to edit than to create, which means that I invite you to change this for your own use.   I hope that you have a great beginning of the school year! 

If you're a new (world language) teacher, check out a different post giving 10 pieces of advice for new teachers.
Dear Sir or Madam:
Bonjour!  I am so excited for September 1 (the first day of school) and my tenth year of teaching.  This might be the first, second, or third time that the child in your care will be taking French with me.  Here is some important information:

Binders.  This year, I will require all students in my class to have a binder.   I also ask that you buy at least 9 dividers.   The handouts, vocabulary words, homework assignments and notes tend to be so numerous that it makes sense to keep them on hand in a logical order.  Freshmen who have a binder for their core classes may use this same binder for French.  If for some reason you are unable to purchase a binder or dividers, please tell me at the beginning of school year.   I will have several to offer to students in need.  Students in French 4 only may opt out of using a binder.  If they do, they must have a place for the numerous handouts.

Syllabus & Website.  The syllabus for each of my classes is posted on my school website. typewebaddresshere.  In addition, I regularly use my website to share assignments and information about student trips, provide links to online practice, and as a place to access useful links, such as how to make accent marks on the computer.  I invite both you and your child to bookmark my website on your home computers and to visit my page regularly.

PowerSchool.  If you contact the main office and gain a password and login for “PowerSchool” you will be able to see the current grades for every assignment in my class.  I encourage you to do this.  Students, like parents, can get a password to access grades online.

Québec Trip.  I am in the process of planning a student trip to Québec in February. This trip still needs approval by the Board of Education, and will hopefully be approved in August.  If the trip is allowed to move forward, I will send a letter home about the excursion very soon.  I hope that you will start talking about it now and would consider this excellent opportunity.

If for any reason you would like to contact me, please either call the school (XXX) XXX-XXX xXX or email me here at school: writeemailaddresshere I would be happy to hear from you either way, although I will admit that I am especially efficient with email.

I am looking forward to the first day of school!

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