Create a List

List Name

Rename this List
Save to
Back to the Top Teaching Blog
October 16, 2017

Rethinking the Weekly Newsletter

By Genia Connell
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    For years, I dutifully sat after school on Thursdays creating the weekly newsletter that went home every Friday. I would fill it with details about what we had done during the week and what was coming up. One whole column gave shout-outs to birthdays and the week’s star student. Additional time was spent on just-right clip art and photos. I’d print it, copy it, email it, and put it on the class website. On Monday, I’d see that beautiful newsletter still sitting in the children’s folders and by Tuesday, I started receiving emails asking when the book orders were due or what time the field trip started. It’s all in the newsletter, didn’t you read the newsletter?!

    Why Didn’t Parents Read My Newsletter?

    Parents are busy, and looking back, my newsletter was just too long. While I’m sure many parents glanced at my newsletter and set it to the side meaning to read it later, they didn’t.

    No Newsletter for You!

    For a while, I stopped doing newsletters completely, replacing them with sporadic informational emails. Why bother with a newsletter? I thought. It’s an exercise in futility, I rationalized. By abandoning the newsletter, however, I gave up on providing my students’ parents with a consistent source of school-to-home communication. I realized breaking up with my parents because they didn’t love my newsletter wasn’t the answer.

    Rethinking the Newsletter

    Last year, inspired by the visually appealing digital newsletters I saw other teachers in my district doing, I decided to give the weekly newsletter another try.

    Before I revived my weekly newsletter, however, I thought long and hard about what I should, or shouldn’t include. I reflected on what I felt my parents truly needed to know to feel informed about what was happening in our classroom, and I also talked to a few parents I knew well to get a feel for what they want in classroom communication.

    The Takeaways

    Parents wanted communication to include:

    • Important information that is short and sweet
    • Dates and deadlines for upcoming events
    • Tips for helping their students at home
    • Bulleted lists
    • Mobile device compatibility
    • Pictures of their children

    Parents didn’t want:

    • Information overload
    • Something they need to print themselves
    • Outdated news

    Now I Have Newsletters Parents Read!

    Since last year, I have jumped on the Adobe Spark bandwagon going around my district to create digital newsletters that stick to the guidelines I listed above. Using this free Adobe platform, I now create a newsletter in about 15 minutes total time, often on my phone. The newsletter is delivered to parents digitally, so they can easily scroll through it on devices and save it to reference later.

    Advantages of using Spark Page newsletters:

    • Clean, easy-to-read design for parents
    • Intuitive and easy-to-use for teachers on computer, phone app, or tablet
    • Pictures, photo galleries, and videos can be added directly from your camera roll
    • Customizable themes and headings to change the look of your newsletter (I use Whimsy)
    • Link can be texted or emailed to parents who can view the newsletter on any device
    • Newsletters are archived on a Spark Page so I access them as needed if I’m logged into the site or app
    • Parents are reading! Each week I can see how many parents have opened the link.

    Using Adobe Spark is this easy.

    1. Go to Adobe Spark and create a free account.

    2. Click on the blue plus sign at the top and select Page. You can also do posts and videos, but Page works best for a newsletter.

    3. Add your title and a photo that will be your header at the top of the newsletter.

    4. Continue hitting the plus sign to build your newsletter, adding text and images.

    5. Customize by choosing a theme. Change your heading sizes by selecting H1 or H2 in the formatting menu.

    6. When you are done press the share button. You can get a link to email/text to parents or to embed in your class website.

     

    All of your newsletters are archived for you!

     

    If you don’t want to use Adobe Spark, consider sending a simple, one-page newsletter email to parents in a simple format. Include important information in a bulleted list. Always include pictures!

    More Newsletter Tips

    • Take lots of pictures during the week so you have visuals to include in your newsletter. I especially look for group shots that can be used as the main picture.
    • If you are using Adobe Spark, start your newsletter in the beginning of the week and add onto it as the week progresses. It is saved on the site and is oh-so-easy to edit. By Friday, you will just need to add a closing and send it off to parents.
    • Print the newsletter for those parents who may not have access to a phone or computer. Provide printed copies of the newsletter for those students.

    Fill in the Communication Gaps During the Week

    Because I don’t want to bog my weekly newsletter down with too many details, I rely on the text messaging Remind app to fill in the blanks. In 140 characters I can send a text to every parent’s phone (their phone numbers are encrypted, so no one can see them) to remind them of a book order deadline or to bring in picture money.

    I’m Not Above Using Clickbait

    My end goal is to create a newsletter that parents read. To help increase the chances of this happening, I always include a note in the subject line to make them want to read it such as:

    • Sign-up for Conferences Inside (the link to sign up is in the newsletter)
    • What I Need From You This Week (permission slip signed)
    • Do You Have 15 Minutes Next Week? (seeking volunteers)
    • Halloween Information You Need Now
    • 20 Minutes That Will Make a Difference in Your Child’s Life (tips for at-home reading)

    I’m hoping you picked up a few pointers that will save you time along with eliminating the frustration that occurs when you realize parents aren’t reading your newsletters.

    If you have any great newsletter tips to share, please add them to the comments!

    Thanks for reading, Genia Connell

    For years, I dutifully sat after school on Thursdays creating the weekly newsletter that went home every Friday. I would fill it with details about what we had done during the week and what was coming up. One whole column gave shout-outs to birthdays and the week’s star student. Additional time was spent on just-right clip art and photos. I’d print it, copy it, email it, and put it on the class website. On Monday, I’d see that beautiful newsletter still sitting in the children’s folders and by Tuesday, I started receiving emails asking when the book orders were due or what time the field trip started. It’s all in the newsletter, didn’t you read the newsletter?!

    Why Didn’t Parents Read My Newsletter?

    Parents are busy, and looking back, my newsletter was just too long. While I’m sure many parents glanced at my newsletter and set it to the side meaning to read it later, they didn’t.

    No Newsletter for You!

    For a while, I stopped doing newsletters completely, replacing them with sporadic informational emails. Why bother with a newsletter? I thought. It’s an exercise in futility, I rationalized. By abandoning the newsletter, however, I gave up on providing my students’ parents with a consistent source of school-to-home communication. I realized breaking up with my parents because they didn’t love my newsletter wasn’t the answer.

    Rethinking the Newsletter

    Last year, inspired by the visually appealing digital newsletters I saw other teachers in my district doing, I decided to give the weekly newsletter another try.

    Before I revived my weekly newsletter, however, I thought long and hard about what I should, or shouldn’t include. I reflected on what I felt my parents truly needed to know to feel informed about what was happening in our classroom, and I also talked to a few parents I knew well to get a feel for what they want in classroom communication.

    The Takeaways

    Parents wanted communication to include:

    • Important information that is short and sweet
    • Dates and deadlines for upcoming events
    • Tips for helping their students at home
    • Bulleted lists
    • Mobile device compatibility
    • Pictures of their children

    Parents didn’t want:

    • Information overload
    • Something they need to print themselves
    • Outdated news

    Now I Have Newsletters Parents Read!

    Since last year, I have jumped on the Adobe Spark bandwagon going around my district to create digital newsletters that stick to the guidelines I listed above. Using this free Adobe platform, I now create a newsletter in about 15 minutes total time, often on my phone. The newsletter is delivered to parents digitally, so they can easily scroll through it on devices and save it to reference later.

    Advantages of using Spark Page newsletters:

    • Clean, easy-to-read design for parents
    • Intuitive and easy-to-use for teachers on computer, phone app, or tablet
    • Pictures, photo galleries, and videos can be added directly from your camera roll
    • Customizable themes and headings to change the look of your newsletter (I use Whimsy)
    • Link can be texted or emailed to parents who can view the newsletter on any device
    • Newsletters are archived on a Spark Page so I access them as needed if I’m logged into the site or app
    • Parents are reading! Each week I can see how many parents have opened the link.

    Using Adobe Spark is this easy.

    1. Go to Adobe Spark and create a free account.

    2. Click on the blue plus sign at the top and select Page. You can also do posts and videos, but Page works best for a newsletter.

    3. Add your title and a photo that will be your header at the top of the newsletter.

    4. Continue hitting the plus sign to build your newsletter, adding text and images.

    5. Customize by choosing a theme. Change your heading sizes by selecting H1 or H2 in the formatting menu.

    6. When you are done press the share button. You can get a link to email/text to parents or to embed in your class website.

     

    All of your newsletters are archived for you!

     

    If you don’t want to use Adobe Spark, consider sending a simple, one-page newsletter email to parents in a simple format. Include important information in a bulleted list. Always include pictures!

    More Newsletter Tips

    • Take lots of pictures during the week so you have visuals to include in your newsletter. I especially look for group shots that can be used as the main picture.
    • If you are using Adobe Spark, start your newsletter in the beginning of the week and add onto it as the week progresses. It is saved on the site and is oh-so-easy to edit. By Friday, you will just need to add a closing and send it off to parents.
    • Print the newsletter for those parents who may not have access to a phone or computer. Provide printed copies of the newsletter for those students.

    Fill in the Communication Gaps During the Week

    Because I don’t want to bog my weekly newsletter down with too many details, I rely on the text messaging Remind app to fill in the blanks. In 140 characters I can send a text to every parent’s phone (their phone numbers are encrypted, so no one can see them) to remind them of a book order deadline or to bring in picture money.

    I’m Not Above Using Clickbait

    My end goal is to create a newsletter that parents read. To help increase the chances of this happening, I always include a note in the subject line to make them want to read it such as:

    • Sign-up for Conferences Inside (the link to sign up is in the newsletter)
    • What I Need From You This Week (permission slip signed)
    • Do You Have 15 Minutes Next Week? (seeking volunteers)
    • Halloween Information You Need Now
    • 20 Minutes That Will Make a Difference in Your Child’s Life (tips for at-home reading)

    I’m hoping you picked up a few pointers that will save you time along with eliminating the frustration that occurs when you realize parents aren’t reading your newsletters.

    If you have any great newsletter tips to share, please add them to the comments!

    Thanks for reading, Genia Connell

Comments

Share your ideas about this article

Genia's Most Recent Posts
Blog Post
Games and Activities to Build Student Vocabulary

Put your reference books to help students power-up their vocabulary with games and activities that make the most of dictionary skills, idioms, antonyms, and synonyms.

By Genia Connell
January 5, 2017
Blog Post
Video Selfies to Improve Fluency

Give your students an assignment to make a 60-second video of themselves reading aloud to show off their fluency skills, and you may discover that they wind up reading for hours in the course of filming their video selfie.

By Genia Connell
December 8, 2016
Blog Post
Chalk Talks to Engage All Students

Chalk Talks are reflective routines that allow all students to simultaneously share their thoughts, ideas, and wonderings in a judgement-free zone. 

By Genia Connell
October 13, 2016

Susan Cheyney

GRADES: 1-2
About Us