Critique my Letter to Parents (New Teacher)

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by TeacherShelly, Jun 10, 2008.

  1. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Jun 10, 2008

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm a career-changer, first year teacher. I've written the following letter to go out with my students' placement letters from the school. Please let me know if I'm on the right track - what should go in, how it sounds... Thank you !!! :love:

    Dear Room 13 Families,

    It is my sincere pleasure to introduce myself as your child’s teacher for the 2008-2009 school year. I am delighted to begin my teaching career at New School. When I chose to change careers, I set a personal goal to join a school that truly respects children’s developmental and multi-dimensional uniqueness. As part of my teacher preparation program, I spent a semester each student teaching in four public alternative/progressive schools, ending with a semester of full time student teaching at New School in Room 5.

    To tell you a little about my background, I grew up half in Indiana and half in Oregon. I earned my BA in Business Administration at My University. In 1992, I moved to Our Town and spent 12 years marketing technology products for startups, mid-sized companies, and Fortune 500 companies. My final 5 years in marketing were at Big Company. In 2002, I had my daughters, twin girls. After trying several ways to mix parenting with working, I chose to stay home with my children. During that time, I gave myself a gift: a new career in teaching. I earned my credential this past spring from Teacher Prep University. My daughters attended kindergarten last year at Old School in Town. I’m thrilled that they will be joining the New School community for first grade.

    I am confident that my formal training, hands-on experience, and outstanding mentoring have prepared me to be a capable teacher. I will be learning much more from actual teaching in the coming year. I am genuinely enthusiastic to get to know and teach your child. My intention is to create a caring and joyful community in Room 13, as a foundation for an exciting year of learning and developing as individuals.

    Enjoy the rest of your summer! See you in August :) !

    Warmly,

    TeacherShelly
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Jun 10, 2008

    I like it!
     
  4. little317

    little317 Groupie

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    Jun 10, 2008

    Just a thought. Instead of focusing so much on the fact that you changed careers and all the things you accomplished in the other career, you might want to focus more about your goals for the year, ways to contact you, importance of parent communication. The simpler the better.

    One thing that my administrator told me my first year is to simply state that it was my ___ year at whatever school I am at.
     
  5. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Jun 10, 2008

    I like it, but it sounds weird to say half Indiana and half Oregon. I would just say I grew up in Indiana and Oregon.
     
  6. shasha379

    shasha379 Devotee

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    Jun 10, 2008

    I agree. It's a little wordy, but overall sounds pretty good. :up:
     
  7. Calalilys

    Calalilys Comrade

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    Jun 10, 2008

    My only concern is coming right out and telling parents that this is your first year of teaching. Some of them may hold that against you and question your every move. I've heard stories from other teachers about this happening and it can make for a miserable relationship between you and them. The only way I would tell them it was my first year is if they flat out asking: "How many years have you been teaching?"
     
  8. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Jun 11, 2008

    Thanks everyone! Froggy, I will change "half" to what you said - good call!

    I guess I am feeling somewhat insecure about this being my first year. That's why I went on about how I was successful before (and will be this time, too). I student taught at this school from Jan - April this past year, so many people already know I'm a first year teacher. I'm prepared to face that, but I don't want to call attention to it. On the other hand, I can't hide it, and saying "It's my first year at New School," could sound disingenuous?
     
  9. MrsPatten

    MrsPatten Comrade

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    Jun 11, 2008

    At the end of my first year I had a little awards ceremony for cute awards in my classroom. I gave a short speech about how much I had enjoyed working with the kids and said something like "Even though I've had a lot of experience working with students this was the first group that was my classroom." It's sort of early for me so I can't think of how you could word that in your letter but I thought it might help.
     
  10. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    Jun 11, 2008

    I think how long your letter is and how much you say about yourself would depend on the parents population of your new school. I would LOVE to have that kind of background info about my son's teacher. Some parents would never read something that long.

    You know the parents (generally) so you can decide if it is too much.

    I would add a little bit more at the end about the actual classroom. And I would delete or change this sentence altogether:

    It is entirely true, but somehow stresses that first year thing all over again.

    I understand the insecurity of being a first year teacher. We have ALL been there. I don't think it is a negative, though. And, when it comes down to it, you have been credentialed and you have been hired. You are qualified for the job. Sure, you've got a lot to learn. But don't we all?
     
  11. educator

    educator Rookie

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    Jun 11, 2008

    The letter sounds like a cover letter for a job application.

    You have the job. Tell them what you hope to accomplish with their children and what you need and expect from them.

    If they are interested in your history, trust me the parents will ask you at the first face to face meeting.
     
  12. brandi0718

    brandi0718 Comrade

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    Jun 11, 2008

    I don't think I would say it is your first year teaching---lots of parents don't like for their kids to be in a teachers room when it is their 1st yr. And I totally agree with sevenplus---I would delete This sentence------I will be learning much more from actual teaching in the coming year.----You want your parents to think you know everything there it to know about teaching......although it is impossible to do that....Just put how many years you have been at that school..... like little317 said........
     
  13. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Jun 11, 2008

    I think it sounds excellent, but I have to agree with some others that I wouldn't let parents know it's your first year, and it's a bit wordy. However, I think the "wordiness" depends on your population. Some parents might be turned off (sortaspeak) by a letter so long and some wouldn't.
     
  14. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Jun 11, 2008

    I worked for The Princeton Review for a number of years as an instructor: we were warned that letting kids or parents know it was the first time you've taught a class was a firing offense. It doesn't actually help the parents to know this, and it sounds a bit like you're asking them to forgive mistakes you haven't made yet.

    I do like that you give a bit about your background, though. I would keep it somewhat more general, however, and just indicate you have experience both in the business world and in teaching. Giving names of your old companies and schools is unnecessary. If they're impressive (e.g., Ivy League), I'd suggest you don't name-drop it here, but allow someone to learn it indirectly.

    Having first-grade daughters also gives you some credibility, at least with parents of girls, so I think you should keep it. I might leave out that they'll be attending the same school, though. Parents will naturally figure this out, but it can cause some tension.

    Contact information would be great. Philosophy of teaching would be great, something about the curriculum would be great, particularly since it's an alternative/progressive school.

    :2up:

    As a parent, I completely agree. The two purposes of an introduction letter to the parents should be to give some idea of what to expect in the coming year, and to inspire confidence. Telling them about yourself is good, but incidental to these goals.

    You should get your own head screwed on right, too. It should not be "I am confident" you are prepared to be a good teacher. You ARE a good teacher. While presenting yourself to parents as knowing everything about teaching, you don't want to come off as a know-it-all. Of course you'll learn, and sometimes you may doubt (no -- reevaluate) the particular practices you're following, but that's part of being a good teacher. Eventually, a great teacher.

    That you student-taught last year means you don't have to say "I'm a first year teacher." You can simply say, "I taught at New School for part of the year last year" or something similar. Try to keep in mind what they really know, too. Just because you were there part of the year may not necessarily mean that they know you were student teaching.

    In the end, don't sweat the "first year teacher" thing much. Parents will largely judge you on what occurs during the year and how you present yourself.
     
  15. janlee

    janlee Devotee

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    Jun 11, 2008

    Your letter is quite wordy. Get it down to one paragraph and then the parents will read and remember what you wrote. Make it short, sweet, and to the point. Personally I wouldn't even send out a letter. I would send a blurb in August (or whenever your school starts) introducing yourself to your students and how you are looking forward to meeting them.
     
  16. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Jun 11, 2008

    As a parent, I could appreciate your letter, Shelly. As another first year teacher, I was just as surprised as you to see everyone warn against mentioning it. I guess I hadn't really given it much thought as I had just planned on sending postcards to my kiddos welcoming them to my class and telling their folks the open house date. Short and sweet. Although, I've been told I'm too short and sweet. :lol: Can't win for losin', eh?
     
  17. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Jun 11, 2008

    Like others have said, I would focus on what parents can expect for the upcoming year. I would keep the part about being excited to work with the students, etc., but then I would tell about a few exciting things they will learn (broad units would be fine), and give out contact info. It's summer, most families are not thinking about the school year this early, even though we are planning madly for it!
    BTW, I think it's great that you want to contact your new parents--I won't even get a class list until 30 min. before open house (held the day before school starts!)
     
  18. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Jun 11, 2008

    OK, thanks for the advice everyone. I'm taking it all in and I appreciate all tips. THe P asked me for the letter. She wants to include it with the placement letters in July.

    I would like to have a theme for back to school time, and will write a letter to the students to get them excited, later, like a week prior to school starting.

    I'm going to sleep on this letter and revise it in the morning. Thanks so much!
     
  19. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Jun 11, 2008

    Well... I can't sleep, so here's revision #2:

    Dear Room 13 Families,

    It is my sincere pleasure to introduce myself as your child’s teacher for the 2008-2009 school year. I am delighted to join New School. My philosophy of learning honors and respects children’s developmental and multi-dimensional uniqueness. I know that every child can and does learn; and it is easy for me to see the brilliance in every one.

    To tell you a little about my background, I grew up in Indiana and Oregon. After earning my BA in Business Administration, I moved to the Bay Area and spent 12 years marketing technology products. In 2002, I had my daughters, twin girls. After trying several ways to mix parenting with working, I chose to stay home with my children. During that time, I gave myself a gift: a new career in teaching.

    I am eager to get to know and teach your child. My intention is to create a caring and joyful community, the foundation for an exciting year of learning and developing as individuals.

    Enjoy the rest of your summer! See you in August J !

    Warmly,

    TeacherShelly
     
  20. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Jun 11, 2008

    Wanted to add: this school is ALL about being child-centered and process over product. That's why I didn't put anything about the curriculum. I tried to work in the Ohlone Indian unit we'll be doing, but I just couldn't make it work... Other than that unit, I don't know what big projects and themes we'll work on yet.
     
  21. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    Jun 12, 2008

    How about something like this??

    Dear Room 13 Families,

    It is my sincere pleasure to introduce myself as your child’s teacher for the 2008-2009 school year. Since I am new to the full-time staff at New School, I wanted to allow you to get to know me a little better:

    * I spent a semester each student teaching in four public alternative/progressive schools, ending with a semester of full time student teaching at New School in Room 5, and I have to say that I am delighted to join a school that truly respects children's developmental and multi-dimensional uniqueness.

    *I grew up in Indiana and Oregon and earned my BA in Business Administration at My University. Ten years after moving to Our Town, I had my daughters, twin girls (now first graders!). I later earned my teaching credential from Teacher Prep University.

    I am very happy to be teaching your child and I look forward to working with you to help your child have a successful third? grade year!

    I am genuinely enthusiastic about getting to know and teach your child. My intention is to create a caring and joyful community in Room 13, as a foundation for an exciting year of learning and developing as individuals.

    You will be receiving much more information about our class rules and procedures, special activities, and homework expectations soon! In the mean time, please don’t hesitate to call or email me if you have any questions or concerns.


    Enjoy the rest of your summer! See you in August !

    Warmly,

    TeacherShelly
     

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