I do my best to communicate with parents regularly.  This is an area that I would love to improve in because I still have a lot to learn!

Weekly Correspondence

Beginning of the Year

Testing Letters and Special Event Letters

Grades

Storing Parent Communication

Parent and Teacher Conferences

Student Directory

Resources

Weekly Correspondence

 

Friday Folder

    Every teacher is required to send home a Friday Folder every Friday (obviously!) at my school.  The purpose of this is to improve parent/ teacher communication.  Inside this folder is student work, flyers and information from the school and teachers and a conduct and work habits grade.  Grades are also sent home every three weeks in the folder.  Since it is a school wide system, all parents know to look for the folder on Fridays.  Parents review the folder, keep the contents and then send the folder back signed.  At the end of a nine weeks I keep the paper as a record of behavior and also use it determine what should be marked on the behavior section of the report card. On Monday mornings, students turn them in to a designated spot.  I go through each folder to make sure it is signed and check for any parent notes inside.  Students without their folder get their name written on the board as a reminder (well for me, but it helps them too!), but do not get a punishment.  I tell students we all forget things from time to time.  However, if the student does not have it on Friday, they lose time off recess.

     Click here to see the Friday Folder behavior/ work habits form

     To keep all this organized I have a Friday Folder box.

     In a crate I have several hanging file folders label 1 to 26.  Each student has been assigned a number.  At the back of the crate  I keep all the Friday Folders that have been signed. Whenever I grade any papers that need to be retuned on Friday, I stick them in the Friday Folder basket.  Students then file them in the correct folder.  Same thing for flyers: anytime I receive any flyers or newsletters in my box I put them at the front of the Friday Folder box so students can file  them.  This is very easy, because I do not do the majority of the work.  Students can file during free time when work is completed or bus call.

This year I decide to splurge.  I have really been wanted a literature sorter to use for my Friday Folders, but could not justify a $75 purchase.  Last weekend I went to Office Max during their Teacher Appreciation weekend.   I found this literature sorter for only $54.99!

There are 24 compartments and I am hoping I will have no more than 24 students.  On top of the literature sorter is a plastic basket for work that needs to be filed.  I labeled each "box" with a number instead of student names so the boxes can be used year after year!

Here is a picture of the literature sorter.  On top I have a labeled basket for work that needs to be filed in the Friday Folder boxes and a pencil sharpener on top as well.  It is right next to my refrigerator on the back counter.

 

 

 

Class Newsletter

     My teammate and I *try* to send home a newsletter in every Friday Folder.  In the newsletter we note any important dates, and information coming up.  We also give parents a "heads up" about what will be taught the NEXT week so parents can prepare at home if they want too.  Parents have told me in the past they would rather know what was were about to do, rather that what we were doing.  We try to keep the newsletter short and simple so parents might actually read it!!

 

Click here to see the newsletter I created in Word as a template.

Here is an example of this newsletter filled in.

 

I created another newsletter form for my second grade students.  It is very similar to my other  newsletter, but I added pictures to make it more "cutesy primary!"

 

Here is an excellent newsletter template that was shared from another teacher at my school.  Thanks, Kathleen!

 

Click here to see free Microsoft templates.

Here is another link for free newsletter templates.

Kelly's Kindergarten has monthly templates

Here are some more templates from Education-World

ABCteach has this simple template and this one

 

 

Beginning Of the Year

Parent Information

     At the very beginning of school I send home a handbook for parents and students.  This has all the essential information about how our classroom works.  From grades and behavior to birthdays and attendance.  It is all there.  Parents sign and return the bottom slip.  This way no parent can say they did not know!!!  Click here to see Parent Packet explaining classroom procedures and schedules.  Here is my most current parent handbook from the 2007-2008 school year.  This is geared toward my second grade class.  Many of my awesome teammates in second helped me add new ideas to the packet, so not all these ideas or words are mine.)

Here it it is PDF and here it is in Word.

 

Positive Post Cards

     At the beginning of the school year I sit down and and address a post card with a cheerful saying on front about "Good News from School!" (we get these free from the company that takes the student portraits).  I address AND stamp them.  My goal is to send home ALL of the post cards by the end of the year.  I keep them all rubber banded on my desk.  When I have a spare moment, I flip through the stack of cards and jot down a quick note to the student and/or parents noting something special the child has done: improved in behavior, great job on a project, befriended the new kid in class, etc.  I drop them in the front  mailbox the next morning in the front office.  Parents love this AND the kids love this.  By going ahead and pre-addressing the post cards I accomplish two things:

  • I know who I have NOT sent a post card home too (and need to do this!)

  • Makes me more likely to actually write the note since I spent the time and money on stamping and addressing them!

 

    

 

Testing and Special Events Letters

Testing

     I send this letter home the week before standardized testing to notify parents.  Very simple, two notes to a page.  Click here to see testing note.

 

How to Help Letters

     These letters give tips to help parents work with their child at home.  I did not create these, but cut and pasted to meet my needs. I give these out during conferences to the parents of students who are struggling.  I also keep them out on a desk by the door so while parents are waiting for a conference, they can grab a sheet.  Click here to see the letter on reading.  Click here to see the letter on writing.

 

Another great website for lots of parent resources is Kelly Bear.  There are several parent handouts that are very helpful.

 

Grades

 

I do not have a letter for this section.  However, I DO send home grades every three weeks that students return with a parent signature.  Our grades are done on the computer.  All I have to do is select reports and print and I have all the information I need to send home. 

 

However, my team mate DID create a letter that we attach to grades if a student has a D or F in Social Studies or Science (the standardized test becomes pass fail for students with a D or F)  or if the student has a C (they are in danger of the standardized test becoming pass/fail in science of social studies).

 

Click here to see the letter notifying parents about grades.

 

What Do You Do With It All?

 

Storing Parent Communication

 

 

This is just a plastic milk crate.  I have 25 hanging folders that are numbered.  Students are each given a number at the beginning of the school year.  I keep all the students information in the corresponding hanging folder. I keep a red folder with a matching number in the corresponding folder for JUST parent notes and correspondence.  I put student work samples and anything else I might need to keep about the student in the actual hanging folder.

 

Since the folders are labeled with numbers , I can reuse the crate every year.

 

Student Directory

 

     This is something our PTA asks the room moms to create at my school at the beginning of the school year.  However, when I was surfing the 'net several people were discussing this.  This is how it works at my school: the room mom sends home a form with each child.  The from lists the child's name, parent's name, phone number and any preferences.  Some parents ask that there be no phone calls after ___pm, and others might mention an allergy.

 

The students send them in filled out WITH a parent signature.  Then the room mom types it up into a one page Word document, usually with a cutesy border.  I laminate it and send home in the Friday folder!

 

Resources

 

Other great websites with information about parent communication are

www.mspowell.com.

http://teachers.net/gazette/SEP02/gruber.html

http://www.teach-nology.com/ideas/parent_communication/

http://home.att.net/~teaching/oddsends.htm

http://barry.haines.net/templates.html

http://www.education-world.com/tools_templates/index.shtml