Back To School Welcome Packet
Getting ready for a new school year requires a TON of work. There’s no way around it. If you are a primary teacher then your job is even a bit more of a challenge. This series breaks down this overwhelming undertaking into time and tasks. We are focusing on the time period of 2 or less months before school starts. If you haven’t read the previous posts click “The People”, “The Paperwork” and “The Planning” to get caught up. Today we will tackle “The Prep” (part 1) and then in the next post we will do “The Prep” (part 2).
"The Prep" For A Successful Year
If you are a teacher then you have got to master (dun, dun, dun) “The Prep”. Being able to prioritize tasks and get then completed quickly and systematically is the sign of a pro. It’s all about working smart.
Prepping For Positive Communication
Now that you have your teacher binder ready to go (what no teacher binder? Go to this post to set it up and get your freebie) let’s start filling it up.
One of your biggest tasks this year will be communication, but do not fear. Here we are 1 or 2 months before school starts. You are prepping so that you will accomplish this very important goal.
Priority One- Communicating With Parents
Priority 1: Communication with the parents and guardians of your, students will be your biggest challenge. Your biggest friend or foe will be the parents and guardians of your students.
You are going to want them not only in your corner but you are going to want to form an alliance with them. (Sound like war? Well teaching is sometimes seen as an adversarial act and the more you can show them that you are the good guy and not the bad guy, all the better.) You can’t be a good guy without communication.
So how do you communicate with 50+ people about really important stuff? Let’s start laying the groundwork.
Lay A Friendly And Caring Foundation
How do you lay a friendly and caring foundation? The more you know and are interested in your students and their life the more you will care for them.
How do you get to know them?
Ask them for some information about themselves. (It’s a little like a first date. You are going to ask them questions about themselves and tell them a little about yourself. You will concentrate on making them feel amazing and special.
Getting Information About Your Students
First, you need information about your students. The sooner you can start with this relationship the better. First, go to your school secretary and get any and all info you can about your students. A great thing to collect would be names, addresses, phone numbers and emails. You are going to be using this info for your initial communication.
Guess where you are going to put all this info?
That’s right, your teacher binder.
The Welcome Letter Packet
Now, you are going to create a welcome packet. You are doing it in month 2 because you want this to be professional and have time to edit it and make it amazing. You may have to tweek it over the next few weeks so get a first draft done so you can mess around with it until you want to send it out.
The first part of the packet is a welcome letter to the class. Here are a few things to consider in your welcome letter.
Parts Of A Welcome Letter
Tell briefly about yourself, then talk about how excited you are to meet and get to know your students. Tell them about some of the cool things they will be doing and learning about in class. Ask then to fill out the attached paperwork. Give them a deadline for turning it in. (I like to include a self-addressed envelope and/or a way then can send it to me electronically.)
Here is an example of a welcome letter.
I have create this border for you to use if you’d like to fancy up the letter. Get your free border here. (The boarder shown is different than the one I am giving you. When I remember where I put the other one I'll make it available for free too. Uggg, my brain sometimes. )
Part 2- Student Info Page
First, the welcome letter. Second, a student info page. This page has the general info. Name, birthday, address, phone number. (All of which you will be teaching them or assessing to make sure they know throughout the year so best to collect them now) I also like to ask some questions.
- What name would you like your child to go by and learn to write in the classroom? This name will be used on multiple name tags. (My son’s name is Nicholas but he uses Nick)
- Does your child have any food allergies or any immediate health concerns for the teacher to be aware of?
- What are some of your child’s interests and dislikes.
- Is there anything you’d like me to know about your child.
Click On The Image Below To Get a FREE PDF Of This Form.
Part 3- Photo Permission
I also like to put a photo permission slip in the welcome packet because I like to post some pictures on the website that very first day. I get a picture of every child and post it on the classroom website/blog. (or just keep it for a bunch of other uses that we will be addressing at a later date).
If you have a classroom website show the students the site at the end of the first or second day and tell them to show their parents. This is a great way to start communication and let the parents see the awesome stuff going on in the classroom. Here’s an example of a Photo/video Opt-in form. Click on the image below to get your free PDF of this form.
Part 4- Volunteer Form
The Volunteer for is the next thing you’ll want to place in the welcome packet. I want to make something very clear. You will probably get on 2 of these papers back. Don’t be discouraged and think the parents of your students don’t want to be involved with their children’s education. What this paper is going to do for you is telling you the parents that a super gungho about helping out. It is also going to show that you are a friendly open classroom and that parents are always welcome in your classroom.. Believe it or not you are communicating to them that you are the good guy. Here is an example of a Volunteer Form.
I always send out another form about the 2 week of school and follow up with emails and text to get parents into the classroom and or involved with school activities.
Send It Out
Now, print out the letter, student info page, volunteer and the photo permission and include a self addressed envelope. If you are so inclined now is a great time to set up a database for printing mailing labels or if your really lucky your school secretary will print them for you. (If you haven’t read the post about the “The People” you need to connect with 2 months before school starts check it out here. You’ll be glad you did.)
Communication With Your Administrator
Now you will wait until your deadline of returning.
Right now is a great time to touch base with your administrator and ask if they are aware of any students with special needs. Do you need to learn sign language before the end of the summer? (True story. Happened to me.) Are there any students with any social or emotional needs that you need to be aware of? ( foster homes or mental illness, physical illness?)
Superstar Teacher Communication Starts Now
Administrators don’t keep this important student info from you intentionally but for some reason it’s the kind of information that gets bombed on you a week before school starts. So be proactive and ask about any special needs of your students. Your administrator will begin to see your superstar qualities when you take the initiative to get to know your students 2 months before they walk through your door.
While you are waiting for you student info to come back to you …. Go on to the next post where we will tackle “The Prep” part 2 and the supplies you need for your classroom. It’s a big list and I will be providing you with a checklist of all the stuff you must have in your classroom.
Now Go Be Amazing… And don’t forget to take a break and do something fun during the months and weeks before school starts. You’ve got a long, exciting time ahead of you and you will need to be your best self. So go have some fun.
Also, be sure to claim your free copy of my book “The Blueberry Pancake Problem” as well as 6 freebie printables that go with this fun counting book.