Preparation For the New School Year

Preparation For the New School Year

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  1. It is August, which means back to school season has been underway for some time now. The stores stocked upon supplies back in June. Information packets for parents and teachers started mailing out at the beginning of the month. And even a couple of those trees in the north have started turning colors. Are you prepared for the new school year?

    You should have your classroom placement, so you know what age group/grade you are teaching. You may even have a class list at this point. If you are in a multi-age classroom, some of those children may be familiar already.

    • Send a welcoming note to your students. Introduce yourself and tell them how excited you are to meet them.
    • Include a school supply list.
    • Write a welcoming note to parents, introducing yourself with more detailed information. Avoid sharing too much of your personal life.
    • Invite students and parents to an open house, or let them know when they can come in to see you.

    Set up an Open House time or Meet and Greet for your parents and students. Opportunities for this are going to vary from school to school, so check with your administration about what is permissible. You may even be able to suggest your own. Children’s anxiety can sometimes be alleviated by visiting a new classroom before school starts. Parents can ease their concerns, and fill you in on their child’s details that are not always in the files.

    • Offer a walk-through, which is an open hour or two where parents and children can drop in to see the classroom and meet you.
    • Set up individual appointments. This can be done the week prior to school starting, or on a designated day.
    • Greet parents with a warm smile and firm handshake. Greet children down at their level.
    • Skim files ahead of time, to see if there is anything you wish to ask parents right away.
    • Take notes on what the parents share with you. It is difficult to remember all of the information you will receive that day.
    • Prepare a little take home note of welcome and include a short overview of the year, or some frequently asked questions. Include information on how to contact you with questions, comments, or concerns. Make sure those who do not attend this session also receive a copy.

    At the beginning of the school year, parents have hundreds of questions. Send home regular newsletters, either via paper or via email, depending on school policy. Focus on a couple of key items at a time. Parents will not want to read lots of pages of information. Grab their attention with frequent, small blurbs. If one parent comes to you with a question, send the answer to everyone. Chances are more people have the same question, but have not yet asked.

    • What is the general schedule for the day?
    • When are specials, such as Spanish, music, P.E., etc. offered? Who are those teachers?
    • What are your expectations for homework?
    • What kinds of testing will take place?
    • How can parents contact you?
    • Who are other important contacts within the school? (Granted, this information should be presented by administration, but it helps for your to reinforce it.)
    • What are the basic ground rules of the classroom? (Be more specific than "Be respectful.")
    • What is the procedure for discipline?
    • What are some important upcoming dates, such as parent-teacher conferences?

    Remember that your initial contact with parents can set the tone for the rest of the school year. Be professional. Be firm, yet kind. Allow the doors of communication to flow smoothly in both directions.

    Photo copyright Heriberto Herrera, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/795833

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