Parent Letter? Parents, what do you think?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by MissFroggy, Jul 7, 2011.

  1. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Jul 7, 2011

    You might have seen my post a few weeks ago about my P saying I didn't schmooze enough with parents and it was effecting how they thought of me. I'm too cut and dry, and don't offer enough of myself, and so forth... well, I am changing grade levels and have a whole new set of families- not even a sibling of someone who had me before. So I get to start fresh.

    I am SO excited because I really want to build back up my reputation as a great teacher. Can you look over the letter I wrote and give me some feedback, either as a parent yourself or as a teacher?

    Thanks!

    August 2011
    Dear Families,
    Welcome to Miss Froggy’s 2nd grade in Room A-1! I am so excited to begin the school year with you and get to know your child and your family. I’m geared up for a great year, and can’t wait to see the kids trying fun projects, learning lots of new things, and working and playing in a safe and productive environment.
    You’ve probably seen me around campus, as I have been at ABC School for six years, but I thought I would tell you a bit about myself anyway. I grew up in this area and attended ABC School as a child! I love working at a place I hold so dear to my heart. I have my MA.Ed from XYZ University, and before teaching in this town, I taught in this other town not far away. I live in JKL Neighborhood in the big city with my dog and partner, and in my free time love to attend concerts, volunteer, walk my dog, and take road trips.
    You may have questions about your child’s experience in class this year. Email me, come in before or after school, or give me a call any time. If you’d like to see what’s happening in class or volunteer, there will be plenty of opportunities for that, too. Once our classroom routines are fully established, I will be looking for volunteers to come in and work with students during reading and science times. I know we will have many fun field trips throughout the year, and of course, would love to see each of you as a chaperone, if possible.
    I’d like to ask that you provide your child with a glossy two-pocket folder to take back-and-forth from school and home on Fridays. This folder will contain work and projects that your child completed during the week and will allow you to see some of what we’re doing on a regular basis. Kids generally have fun picking out a fun folder to match their interests and personality. Additionally, to save paper, I’d like if each child brought an artist’s sketchbook to school (spiral or bound, but no rip-out pages.) Both of these items can be found in the school supply aisles in stores like Target or Fred Meyer.
    During the first weeks of school I will be sending my behavior management packet home. I’m going to ask that you sign the agreements and send them back to me promptly. This will ensure that all of the children are able to have a safe, happy, and positive experience at school.
    My ultimate goal is to uphold the mission of ABC School. My job is to create a classroom that honors a child’s curiousity and enthusiasm for learning. I do that by providing rich, engaging activities, looking at the needs of the students and taking into account their interests as our curriculum develops throughout the year. In our classroom, the balance of social and academic skill development is foremost. We will engage in meaningful math, language and social learning activities daily, fostering the students’ independence and internal motivation to learn. Finally, in our desire for a strong, compassionate community, we will learn about ourselves and others and find ways to build empathy, understanding, and a sense of giving, sharing, appreciation and respect.
    I look forward to a wonderful 2011-2012 school year! If you have any questions before school starts, please ask.
    See you on Sept. 8th!

    Miss Froggy
    ABC School, 2nd Grade
    555-2222
     
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  3. Go 4th

    Go 4th Habitué

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    Jul 7, 2011

    As a parent, I would feel very welcome in your room. You introduced yourself, gave a bit of history, and invited me in. You talk about how you will share work and you seem focused on the children.

    As a teacher, I think it's perfect for all those same reasons!!!

    Is Sept 8 the first day of school? WOW! Students go back here on August 2, teachers July 25.
     
  4. BettyRubble

    BettyRubble Rookie

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    I think it sounds great!
     
  5. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    I would not think that your name was really Miss Froggy. I'd think you made it up.
     
  6. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I would put the part about contacting you at the end of the letter, and I would include your email address, phone number, etc.

    Is this a letter you are sending before school starts? As a parent, it seems a bit wordy for the middle of the summer. Maybe send a first letter with a little bit about yourself, how excited you are for the upcoming year, and the supplies needed. You can send a second letter dealing with the school's mission and what to expect for volunteering once the year is underway on the first day of school.
     
  7. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    For me it is a bit wordy. I personally don't like to put that much information and have been told by parents that when they get things that are too long, they don't read it.
    My letters to parents usually include facts and that is all.
     
  8. yarnwoman

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    I agree it seems wordy. I read it with my parent hat on and started just skimming because it was so wordy. Then I read it with my teacher hat and thought that it would be better if broken up. Do you have the ablility to put some of this on a web page? I was recently looking at teacher websites and was quite amused at how much personal info teachers share with their parents/students. I was told I share about my life to much so I really have to watch what I say. I think that is one reason they moved me down into lower primary this year.
     
  9. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Jul 7, 2011

    I wouldn't leave in the part about living with your partner. No matter who the partner is, it could worry traditionalists.
     
  10. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Too wordy, but very friendly!

    Break it up. Number what the child needs to purchase. Add clip art. (I'm a clip art fanatic.) Skip the whole last paragraph or whittle it down to one or two sentences.

    I'd be excited if I had a child that was going into your classroom. You sound friendly and very competent. But I also wouldn't have read the whole thing. And while I personally could care less if you have a partner, I think that your marital status is no one else's business. But it is the kind of thing that many parents in my community would question.
     
  11. janney

    janney Cohort

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    Jul 7, 2011

    :thumb: Love the idea of sending a letter before school starts, wish I had my info in advance to do this as well.

    I agree with some of the concerns above. I took out some things and moved some things around. I think it still contains the main points that you had originally. I think that some of the personal things about yourself would be good to share with your students (maybe about your dog and some pictures from around your neighborhood) at the begining of school. With this letter you could include an all about me form for the students to fill out to show that you care about the individual child.

    August 2011
    Dear Families,

    Welcome to Miss Froggy’s 2nd grade in Room A-1! I am so excited to begin the school year with you and get to know your child and your family.

    To let you know a little about myself, I have been at ABC School for six years and I attended ABC School as a child! I love working at a place I hold so dear to my heart.

    My ultimate goal is to uphold the mission of ABC School and create a classroom that honors a child’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. Throughout the school year your child will be engaging in many activities to develop his/her social and academic skills and foster his/her independence and internal motivation to learn.

    During the first weeks of school I will be sending my behavior management packet home. Please sign the agreements and send them back to me promptly. Once our classroom routines are fully established, I will be sending home further information about opportunities to observe and volunteer in the classroom.

    Please provide your child with a glossy two-pocket folder of any design to take home on Fridays with work and projects that your child completed during the week. Additionally, to save paper, I’d like if each child brought an artist’s sketchbook to school (spiral or bound, but no rip-out pages). Both of these items can be found in the school supply aisles in stores like Target or Fred Meyer.

    I look forward to a wonderful 2011-2012 school year! If you have any questions before or during the school year feel free to email me, come in before or after school, or give me a call any time.

    See you on Sept. 8th!

    Miss Froggy
    ABC School, 2nd Grade
    555-2222
    email_____________
     
  12. AZMrs.S

    AZMrs.S Cohort

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    Jul 7, 2011

    :thumb:
     
  13. SpecSub

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    Jul 8, 2011

    Can they really call you at any time? :) Some parents might not realize that you are not available all day to take their calls! I would say, "...or give me a call at the school office." Leave out the anytime part, and at the beginning of the year you can give more detailed information about your planning time, or hours during which you can receive calls or meet with parents.
     
  14. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Jul 8, 2011

    Personally, I like knowing a little more about my child's teachers, sometimes personal and sometimes professional. I've found it helpful to know about ESL certifications, genders and ages of teacher's children, and background information such as where they went to school or their interests (one teacher shared an interest in skiing, which my oldest has done since he was 3, for instance -- and another went to school in NH, where we have an ancestral home and go every year -- so there could be a lot of different points to make connections).

    Separating your letter into paragraphs will reduce the intimidation factor of a wall of text, and also put your topics into neat categories for review. I might do something like:

    Dear Families,

    <welcome sentence>

    About Me:

    <describe background, accomplishments, education at minimum. Add personal life, interests, why you became a teacher or whatever else if it's interesting or possibly relevant. "Partner" -- which I think everyone will recognize as a code word -- is potentially relevant for some. It suggests a lot about what you wouldn't tolerate in the way of bullying, for example, that could give comfort to some parents. I think it's up to you.>

    What to expect:

    <behavior plan, opportunities for observation, whatever else will happen in the first few weeks>

    To bring to school:

    <things the parent needs to buy prior to school. You might also include "Do NOT bring....">

    Oh, and I concur with giving specific contact information and how long they might expect to get a response to emails. I've had some teachers take over a week to respond. Also keep in mind that if you're giving them the name of the town where you live, they could likely get your home number/address. Giving them specific contact information will signal that you're not inviting them to call you at home.
     
  15. mom2ohc

    mom2ohc Habitué

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    Jul 8, 2011

    I love how enthusiastic you sound too! I would love for my hailey to be in your class :)
     
  16. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Jul 8, 2011

    As a parent, I like as much info about my daughter's teacher as possible. I like to know your qualifications, experience, expectations, plans for the year, etc. I like the letter.
     
  17. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    As a parent, I would appreciate you breaking out the necessary supplies into bullet points. I read the entire letter, and I don't object to the length. But I would have to go back and highlight the details to avoid missing anything.

    It's up to you what you share about your personal life. I don't think you should have to hide who you are.
     
  18. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Sounds good. But, it may be a little long. I completely skipped the part where you live with your partner that others noticed, so that tells me that I was skimming and not really getting the full effect.

    Here is an idea... To get kids excited about coming to school. I always tell them that they can bring their favorite stuffed animal and introduce it to their new friends on the first day of school. I put this in a PS at the end of my note. Kids LOVE it! I always bring a few stuffed animals with me just in case someone is enrolled that day or the parent forgets to remind the child!
     
  19. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    It makes me sad that it's even been suggested to leave out that you have a partner. I certainly have in my introductory letter that I have a husband and I know it's common practice to mention spouses or significant others. :(

    I don't think it's too long, but as others have mentioned, slightly different organization and or formatting might be helpful.
     
  20. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I think the more personal details about who you are can be saved for the classroom. As you get to know your students those are the types of things you share in stories as you teach. Parents, they don't need to know you as well as the kids.
     
  21. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    I like the idea of breaking it into paragraphs and bullet pointing the supplies. You could even do the letter on one page and the supplies on another so your letter doesn't seem quite as long. I also agree that you should not mention you partner. There are just too many people out there who wouldn't understand and might cause problems for you. I would just say friend (I know he or she is much more special than just a friend.).You have done a fabulous job putting heart and soul into this letter!
     
  22. mom2ohc

    mom2ohc Habitué

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    I didn't mean to offend, honestly, sorry if I did.

    Some things are personal. I never talk about being married in my intro letter. I just think it is too personal. I tell about myself, in a not too personal way. for example. I like sailing and spend as much of my free time as I can outside.

    I didn't mean that you need to hide who you are or who anyone is, just that I do not think it is necessary to be too personal.

    We can be good teachers and the parents can like us just as much without knowing some personal details about us.

    Again, sorry if I offended you. :sorry:
     
  23. LUCHopefulTeach

    LUCHopefulTeach Habitué

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    Jul 8, 2011

    :agreed:

    The word partner also creates a visual for many people- whether it's a true visual or not- and this may unfortunately cause a negative opinion or impression.
     
  24. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    A visual? Like, a visual of two women being intimate? Is that what you mean? That just seems a little weird...
     
  25. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Ha! Well, that's definitely not the visual I want to send out there. However, I actually do want the parents to know that I am a lesbian. I teach in a very open, diverse, and liberal school- but I think it stops them from making suppositions about me and me having to explain myself later. We have several teachers who are LGBT so I really am not worried for example, of someone pulling their child from my class, or getting angry about it.

    I am a very feminine woman, wear dresses and jewelry. Everyone just assumes that I am married to a man or a single woman. I don't like that because I have to explain and re-explain, or skirt the issue entirely, which is awkward for me. Other people don't have to say anything, because when the parents meet you and see a ring on your finger or no ring on your finger, they assume you are married or single.

    I don't think people realize exactly how much is perceived about themselves in terms of their sexuality. If you are straight, it never seems to be an issue, since that's normative in society. Anyway, it could also stop people from making awkward comments later.

    I am THINKING that part of the reason the P thinks I need to schmooze more and let families know about myself is because I have skirted around talking about myself for this very reason. I feel I have nothing to say to the parents, and therefore say very little. I am hoping that by putting this out there up front and in the beginning, I will be an open book, more or less, and perhaps less awkward in conversations later.

    On a side note, THANK YOU EVERYONE for your edits and opinions. It's very helpful!
     
  26. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Well, for what it's worth, I'm pretty certain I wouldn't have a little bubble above my head while reading your letter containing images of you and your girlfriend. Again, it just seems a little weird that anyone would. Although the image of me having that image while reading your letter is kind of funny. :haha:

    Not that you need a reason to share in your introductory letter that you have a partner, but the reasons you stated make perfect sense.

    Wishing you a great year!
     
  27. LUCHopefulTeach

    LUCHopefulTeach Habitué

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    Yes- a visual, a mental picture, etc. When we heard/see words we typically have our own background that translates to an idea, impression, or mental picture that we have of that word. Nothing more, nothing less. Not weird at all just part of our nature and the way we process vocabulary.
     
  28. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I understand the basic idea, LUC...I just know I didn't have a mental image of two ladies together when I read the line in which she stated she has a partner. If others do, I'm not knocking their "nature" or "vocabulary processing". Just not something I experienced.
     
  29. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I like your letter, MissFroggy, and agree with others who have suggested separating ideas out a bit. You explanation of your reasons for including personal information makes sense to me; I admire your openness.

    (One of our teachers and her partner had a baby last fall, and she was nervous about making the announcement to staff--it made me so sad that she thought we would be anything other than thrilled for her!)
     
  30. SwOcean Gal

    SwOcean Gal Devotee

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    Jul 8, 2011

    Wow! If I had kids, I would love to have them in your class simply because of the tone and energy and happiness and excitement in that letter.
    It's really impressive- I love it. It has a lot of heart and soul in it.
    However, I do agree that many parents just skim.
     
  31. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Jul 8, 2011

    Personally I don't include my home life either. I never thought it was common practice to do so. I would ask your coworkers for feedback on that one since they work in your community. Mine has little to do with your sexual preference and more to do with it being more personal than necessary for this type of communication. Even if I absolutely had no problem with your sexual preference, which I don't, I might wonder why you felt the need to include it, particularly since in my experience, these things aren't included. Our community is pretty open too. I actually worked with a teacher who is a lesbian my first 3 years. It was a non issue.

    I also skimmed it. It was too chunky for me.

    As for how to smooze parents, a welcome letter won't be enough, though it is a great start. There are all kinds of things you can do. The most effective thing is to send emails or make phone calls somewhat regularly about positive anecdotes relating to their child. Parents love knowing you care about THEIR child. If you don't already do so, send a regular newsletter. Include both informative stuff and a fun glimpse into your classroom. Another thing you can do is actively invite and include parents in volunteer opportunities, events and fieldtrips.

    Dont assume you have nothing to talk about. Talk about their child. Tell a story about their child, share something the child said, how their child progressed in something, share a classroom activity and so forth.
     
  32. juliechsa

    juliechsa Rookie

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    Jul 8, 2011

    I also would love for my child to be in your classroom! As a teacher, I agree with the edits that have been suggested. As a parent, I would appreciate having the needed items set off in some way either with bullet points, underlining, indenting, or a different font.

    The idea for a website is also a good one. My school uses Teacher Webs and it's pretty straightforward. One of my colleagues takes lots of pictures and made a share site on Shutterfly for the parents to access. Just a thought - have a great year!
     
  33. KatherineParr

    KatherineParr Comrade

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    I agree with CutNGlue that parents want to hear about their kids. My number one desire from my son's teachers is information. It gives me the sense that they know what's going on with him and it helps me to know, too.

    Also, I can much more easily reinforce what you're working on at school if I know more about it.
     
  34. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    MissFroggy, If that is your intent, then I respect that and say leave it in. I just know in my community, it could be an issue (which is obviously wrong). I actually have a related issue for next year because I will have a child who I think has two daddies and no mom in the picture and one of the other parents told me if that was true she would be withdrawing. Really? In 2011? sigh.....
     
  35. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Jul 8, 2011

    Why not put it into the format of a brochure? I made one at VistaPrint (I know, I know), and was able to include information about my education, husband, daughter and grandchildren, the fact that teaching is a 2nd career for me, what to expect in first grade, and a basic supply list. Our Open House isn't until mid September and I give the brochure the first day of school (we can't send them ahead of time). At Open House, I have a powerpoint presentation that tells more about me (and has pics of my grandkids :love:, etc.). I have no problem with the content. Like some others, I would format it differently, to make it a bit more readable.
     
  36. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Jul 9, 2011

    :eek::wow:
     
  37. queenie

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    Jul 9, 2011

    I was thinking the same thing...
     
  38. queenie

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    Jul 9, 2011

    Sorry- didn't read the other comments before posting :eek: But it is interesting that at least two of us thought the same thing. I get what you're saying- you don't want to seem to be hiding something if parents find out later. I just don't think it's something I'd include. I, personally, didn't get a picture of two women when I read it, but I did wonder if you meant that you were a lesbian or that you were living with a man. It just kind of stood out as a question mark. So it doesn't really help much if your intention is to clear things up, I think.

    As for the rest of the letter, I think it may be a bit TOO much information in one letter. Maybe you could use a bulleted list for the items you're asking them to provide?

    I do love your enthusiasm and think it makes you look like a terrific teacher! :thumb:
     

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