First Day of School Letters and Survival Kits Build Communication
Many teachers and administrators have started introducing themselves to parents and students before school starts, or right at the opening bell. Some have even started providing "survival kits" to help students weather the first few days of school. At some schools, teachers are welcomed with "survival kits" of their own! Included: Examples of survival kits for students and teachers.
The letters are a good way to establish positive communication with parents, several teachers told Education World. "I think it's professional," said Dorothy Peselli, an English teacher at Sparta High School in Sparta, New Jersey. Peselli, who distributes the letters the first day of school, told Education World, "It gives parents an image of you as a professional. If you start communication off in a positive manner, you will have the parents on your side when you need them."
In her letter to parents, Peselli encourages them to call or e-mail her with specific concerns about their children. "I want to work as a team to ensure that your child becomes an independent lifelong learner," Peselli wrote to parents last September. She also telephones the parents of all her students at the beginning of the year.
Peselli includes with the letter a classroom handbook listing policies and procedures. And she requires that both parents and students read and sign statements (included in the letter!) that they read the handbook. The student letter also lists needed supplies and dispenses encouragement. "Please come to class ready to work and learn. This will be an exciting year for all of us," it says.
Last year, Peselli taught at a different high school and she recalled that parents there were "shocked," but appreciative, that she had so much contact with them. "I received roses and a thank you note from one boy and his mother," Peselli said. She wishes her own children's teachers would take the time to write notes as well. "I never got a letter home from any of my daughter's high school teachers," she said. "It would be nice to know the background of some of the people who are teaching my daughter."