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June 24, 2014

Welcoming Students Before the First Day of School

By Rhonda Stewart
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    It’s really hard to wrap my mind around the fact that even though I just closed my classroom, I am already thinking about September. I pack up my classroom with the idea of making the unpacking as efficient as possible given the time allotted me by my district. The first few days back in September are filled with meetings and district professional development. There is some time given for setting up the classroom, but not much. But that’s another blog post! For my last post of this school year, I wanted to focus on setting the tone for the new school year by welcoming a new group of students.

     

    Ways to Welcome Students

     

    Welcome Letter or Postcard

    This is one of the most common and effective ways to build rapport with students and parents. In previous years, as soon as I was given my roster, I would send out welcome letters to my students and their parents to welcome them to the new year. Here’s a sample letter that I sent out in 2006:

    Microsoft Office also has a template that you can use as well:

    Microsoft Office Template

    Pearls of Wisdom — You don't need to send the same postcard to each student. They can be different. You can plan a "getting to know you" activity around the postcards. For example, those students who have “apple” postcard must be ready to show and talk about their favorite book. Or those students who have the “seascape” must be ready to describe their favorite vacation spot. The responses can be charted and shared with the rest of the class.

     

    Phone Call

    For September 2014, I think I am going to go old school. Back in the day, teachers would either call or stop by the homes of their students to introduce themselves. I will make an effort to call the homes of my students before they step into the classroom. These phone calls will not be long or drawn out, just a quick minute to introduce myself and remind the families to go to my teacher web page for information. And just to make sure that I keep to my “minute,” I plan to have a stopwatch on hand to help me manage my time.

     

    Teacher Web Page

    With the use of technology being all the rage, having a teacher web page with the current information of your classroom helps to guide your parents, not just for September, but for the remainder of the year. On my teacher page, I include:

     

    Curriculum for the year
    Homework assignments
    Literacy supply list
    Parent page (important dates)
    Reading log (information and procedures)
    New for this year: Sample entries for Reader’s and Writer’s Notebooks, scoring rubrics

      Pearls of Wisdom — Once you start a teacher web page, be sure to update it on a regular basis. Set a specific time of the day to upload your information. Once parents begin to rely on it, you want to make sure that the information is current.

    Thank you for supporting me on the Top Teaching blog. It has been a pleasure sharing my teaching practices with you. Enjoy your summer and stay tuned for the next chapter coming in late August. As always, do you have any tips to welcome students? Please share!

    It’s really hard to wrap my mind around the fact that even though I just closed my classroom, I am already thinking about September. I pack up my classroom with the idea of making the unpacking as efficient as possible given the time allotted me by my district. The first few days back in September are filled with meetings and district professional development. There is some time given for setting up the classroom, but not much. But that’s another blog post! For my last post of this school year, I wanted to focus on setting the tone for the new school year by welcoming a new group of students.

     

    Ways to Welcome Students

     

    Welcome Letter or Postcard

    This is one of the most common and effective ways to build rapport with students and parents. In previous years, as soon as I was given my roster, I would send out welcome letters to my students and their parents to welcome them to the new year. Here’s a sample letter that I sent out in 2006:

    Microsoft Office also has a template that you can use as well:

    Microsoft Office Template

    Pearls of Wisdom — You don't need to send the same postcard to each student. They can be different. You can plan a "getting to know you" activity around the postcards. For example, those students who have “apple” postcard must be ready to show and talk about their favorite book. Or those students who have the “seascape” must be ready to describe their favorite vacation spot. The responses can be charted and shared with the rest of the class.

     

    Phone Call

    For September 2014, I think I am going to go old school. Back in the day, teachers would either call or stop by the homes of their students to introduce themselves. I will make an effort to call the homes of my students before they step into the classroom. These phone calls will not be long or drawn out, just a quick minute to introduce myself and remind the families to go to my teacher web page for information. And just to make sure that I keep to my “minute,” I plan to have a stopwatch on hand to help me manage my time.

     

    Teacher Web Page

    With the use of technology being all the rage, having a teacher web page with the current information of your classroom helps to guide your parents, not just for September, but for the remainder of the year. On my teacher page, I include:

     

    Curriculum for the year
    Homework assignments
    Literacy supply list
    Parent page (important dates)
    Reading log (information and procedures)
    New for this year: Sample entries for Reader’s and Writer’s Notebooks, scoring rubrics

      Pearls of Wisdom — Once you start a teacher web page, be sure to update it on a regular basis. Set a specific time of the day to upload your information. Once parents begin to rely on it, you want to make sure that the information is current.

    Thank you for supporting me on the Top Teaching blog. It has been a pleasure sharing my teaching practices with you. Enjoy your summer and stay tuned for the next chapter coming in late August. As always, do you have any tips to welcome students? Please share!

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