Primary Preoccupation

A grade one teacher inviting the world into her classroom

Primary Preoccupation - A grade one teacher inviting the world into  her classroom

Writing Back to School Letters

Everyone Likes Letters!

Last year I mentioned on Twitter that I had just finished writing letters to my students-to-be. Someone asked me to share the letter, which I did.  I was surprised at how many people were interested in that letter, so this year I decided to share it without being asked.

Communicating is what we do all day long as teachers. Doing it well is important to the success of our students and to gaining the understanding and support of their parents. I like to start that communication off well, so every August, I send a letter to my new grade one students.  I write to the students because

  1. It gives us a connection before the school year begins. “I got a letter from you!” is a common remark on the first day of school.
  2. Our first contact is positive. It sets the tone for the year.
  3. It creates anticipation.
  4. My pre-readers learn more about communication through the written word.
  5. It gives me a chance to remind them about school supplies which, as you will see by the letters below, is a perennial issue.
  6. Everyone likes to get a letter!

It’s a bit early for this letter to go home, but I have some commitments later this month, so I’ve written out and stuffed the envelopes so they will be ready to go when I want to mail them. The letter has morphed and changed a bit every year, but here is this year’s version.

New Student Letters

Dear Payton,

I’m glad I get to be your teacher this year!

I hope you have been having lots of fun this summer.  Did you buy your school supplies yet?  Don’t forget to bring them all with you on the first day of school.  I’ll put everyone’s supplies together and we’ll share them.

We are going to have an exciting year.  You will get your own iPad to use in our classroom and we will get to learn with other classrooms from all over the world. The best thing about grade one, though, is that you learn to read!

I want you to think about what else you would like to learn this year.  Then, ask your mom or dad to email me and tell me about it.

On the first day of school, I will meet you in our classroom
(Room 2) at 8:55.  Look for the door with pictures of iPads on it.

I’ll see you soon.

Your Grade 1 Teacher,
Mrs. Cassidy

Returning Student Letter

This year I will have a one/two split classroom. Eight grade twos and I will be looping, so they needed their own letter.

Dear Leighton,

I’m so excited that you are going to be in my classroom again this year! I loved watching you learn in grade one and now we can learn even more things together.

You might see some new things in our classroom when you come back in September. You’ll have to wait to see!

I went to some garage sales this summer, and I bought some new books for our classroom library. I’ll put a couple of them that I think you will like into your reading bin to start the school year.

I also bought some new apps for our iPads that I think you will enjoy and will help you to learn. All of the pictures that you took in grade one are still on your iPad and waiting for you.

Don’t forget to bring all of your school supplies with you on the first day of school. We’ll share them again, but be sure to put your name on your scissors and on your headphones or earbuds.

I’ll see you on September the fourth.

Your grade two teacher,

Mrs. Cassidy

Letter to New Parents 

Last year, I decided to also write to the parents of my students.  I included their letter in the child’s envelope.  Here is this year’s version of that parent letter:

Dear Parents,

I’m looking forward to this year and to getting to know your child.  You can help me with this.

Before school starts, would you please take the time to email me (cassidy.kathy@prairiesouth.ca) and tell me anything you would like me to know about him or her?  With your help, I can better help your child to be successful and happy this year.

Your child may also have ideas about what I should know. I would appreciate it if you would also tell me some things that your child is interested in or passionate about.  Sometimes this is dinosaurs, or snakes or Lego or horses…each child is different. This will help me to tap into your child’s interests as he learns to read.

By emailing me, you will also be sharing your email address with me, and I can use that to help keep you up to date about things in our classroom.  If you do not have an email address that you use regularly, or would prefer paper copies during the school year, just mail me a letter with the information instead.  The address at the school is 1100 Currie Crescent, Moose Jaw S6H 5M8

Watch for information from me very early in the school year about a parent information night.

It is not necessary to put your child’s name on all of his supplies as we will be sharing them. Please do put his/her name on the headphones or earbuds and on the scissors.

I’m anticipating a wonderful year of learning together! Please don’t hesitate to email me with any questions you may have.

Kathy Cassidy

Letter to Parents of Loopers

I decided to also include a letter for the parents of my returning students.

Dear Parent,

I’m very excited to be teaching your child again this year. It has long been a dream of mine to have students for two years in a row as it eliminates all the “getting to know you” phase at the beginning of the year and helps students to quickly feel comfortable and ready to learn.  I know your child’s interests and strengths and we can just pick up where we left off at the end of last year. Students also feel more comfortable with someone that they already know. It’s going to be a great year of learning!

Your child will have an iPad to use throughout our school day just as he or she did at the end of last year.  I’m looking forward to finding more ways that these devices can enhance learning in our classroom.

It is not necessary to put your child’s name on all of his supplies as we will be sharing them. Please do put his/her name on the headphones or earbuds and on the scissors. that will save us some time on the first day of school

Please don’t hesitate to email me with any questions you may have. Also, if there is anything about your child that you think I do not yet know but should, please contact me about that as well.  My email address is still cassidy.kathy@prairiesouth.ca

I’m anticipating a wonderful year of learning together!

Kathy Cassidy

I’m sharing these not because I think they are perfect (the’re not!) but because they may be helpful to someone. I’d love to see letters that other teachers write to their students or parents. Are you willing to share?

Category: Learning, Literacy
  • Tanya says:

    I did a similar thing last year with my Grade 1 class and I LOVED the emails I got from parents. Parents are the experts of their children and I found it so interesting what they chose to share about their children. I am on maternity leave this year, but intend to continue with this practice when I return to work.

    August 8, 2012 at 9:50 pm
    • Kathy Cassidy says:

      That is so true, Tanya. We need to tap into that resource of parent knowledge to help us get to know their children.

      August 8, 2012 at 9:54 pm
  • Karen Lirenman says:

    Oh to be so lucky to know who will be in your class at the start of the new school year. With a school as transient as mine it is often a week before the grade one classes are finally determined. Enjoy the last few weeks of summer because as you know once we start it is full speed.

    August 9, 2012 at 1:11 am
    • Kathy Cassidy says:

      Thanks, Karen!
      It is nice to know ahead of time. This summer I have been able to purchase books that I know will appeal to some of the emerging readers I will have again. There are usually some surprises about who has moved and who has come, but for the most part, I already know.

      August 9, 2012 at 2:09 am
  • Tanya Braybrook says:

    Those are great letters Kathy! When I taught grade two in the past, I’ve mailed letters or postcards to my students before school started. Now that I teach grade three, I’ve gotten away from it and since our class lists are posted the day before classes start, we were not encouraged to send them out before the lists went up. I think your students and parents will love these…and what a treat to loop with some of them!

    August 9, 2012 at 5:30 am
    • Kathy Cassidy says:

      I’m quite excited about the looping, Tanya. I have always wished I could follow my students for another year and now I get the chance!

      August 9, 2012 at 11:48 am
  • Ellen Law says:

    I am sure you will love the opportunity to loop with your class. I teach grade 1 and 2 every year and I am always telling parents of students what a great time saver it is in the fall that I know half the class. My letters are similar to yours. In addition I ask children to bring a drawing, photo, or collage of the best part of their summer. these pics are the first thing that go up on our Look what I did bulletin board and are a conversation starter for those first days. also gives me a quick idea of the type of support parents like to give their child. there are always a couple that do not bring anything and I tell them not to worry as they can use our writing time to make something at school. have a good rest of the summer.

    August 12, 2012 at 10:34 pm
    • Kathy Cassidy says:

      I am excited about looping–which I have never been able to do before.
      I love your idea to ask the students to bring something from home. What a great way to see into their world on the first day of school. Thanks for sharing that idea.

      August 14, 2012 at 10:16 pm
  • Claire Kreuger says:

    Hi Kathy,
    I love your letter idea. Just some logistics questions… Did you get all your students’ addresses and then did you send these letters in the mail? Or did you pop them into the report cards at the end of the year?
    -Claire

    August 19, 2012 at 1:28 am
    • Kathy Cassidy says:

      Yes, I send them in the mail. I get their kindergarten addresses from the secretary in June and then send the letters each August.

      August 19, 2012 at 2:39 am
  • Cathy Beach says:

    Thanks Kathy for posting copies of your letters. I’ve been emailing my students over the past couple of weeks, and doing a proper Parent Letter is on my list of To-Do’s today, so it was perfect timing! It’s such a help to read someone else’s work, and to see the commonalities and ideas for things I hadn’t even thought of! I love discovering other teachers who are so open and willing to share for the benefit of all. Thank you for being that kind of person!!

    August 26, 2012 at 4:20 pm
    • Kathy Cassidy says:

      I posted them so that others could use them. You just made the post worthwhile. :-)

      August 26, 2012 at 8:45 pm
  • Daniel Morgan says:

    Thank you for sharing your letters. I think that this is a wonderful idea. Breaking the ice can be a difficult thing to do at times, and this approach would not only do that, but also you get the parents involved too. When I begin teaching, I hope that I will be able to do this as well.

    Thanks again.

    September 22, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: