Each year at this time, I send a letter to the students who will soon be skipping through my classroom door. It began before the computer era as a way to promote literacy by giving students another chance to see print as important in their lives, but each year the letter’s purpose and the letter itself has changed as I saw new potential for informing and involving the students and their parents before the school year began.
This year as I wrote the letter, I thought about how I wanted the students to feel when they got the letter. I wanted them to feel valued. I wanted them to feel like they would be part of something special. I wanted them to feel excited for the year to come and to feel that I cared about their thoughts and ideas.
And this year, I wanted them to start to wonder.
I got this idea from a comment by Grace Toler on the post I wrote about last year’s letter. Grace shared that she also included a “what do you wonder about Primer?” page along with her letter. I wish I had thought of this years ago. Wondering is so much a part of what we do in my classroom. It’s something we begin to do right away. Why not get them wondering before the school year even starts? So along with the letter to my students and the letter to their parents, this year I included an “I wonder…” card for the students to bring to school with them.
This is the letter I wrote this year…
I’m so glad I get to be your teacher this year. I can’t wait to see you on the first day of school!
I’ve been busy in our classroom getting things ready. We are going to have an exciting year. You will get your own iPad to use at school and you’ll find out how to use it to demonstrate your learning to your parents and to people you don’t yet even know.
We will get to learn with other classrooms from all over the world and find out how the children in those classrooms are the same as us and how they are different than we are.
The best thing about grade one, though, is that you will learn to read! I have lots of books to share with you.
I wonder what special things are interesting to you. What do you like to do in your free time? What kind of books do you like to read? What would you like to learn more about? I hope you will ask your mom or dad to email me with the answer to those questions. They are my wonders.
You will do lots of wondering this year, too. What do you wonder about grade one? Tell an adult what you wonder so that he or she can print it on the card in this envelope. Bring it with you on the first day of school.
On September 1st, I will meet you in our classroom (Room 69) at 8:50. Look for the door with your handprint on it.
I’ll see you soon.
Your Grade 1 Teacher,
The letter I included to the students’ parents is below.
I will be your child’s grade one teacher.
I’m looking forward to the school year and to getting to know your child. I look forward to getting to know you as well and to working together with you to help your child to be a successful learner.
I would LOVE to have some information about your child before the school year starts to help me get books and other items ready to match his or her interests. Could you email me and tell me about your child? I’d like to know about any special interests he or she has. Lego? Dinosaurs? Horses? Whatever it is, I’d like to know. What does your child enjoy doing at home? What kind of books does he or she enjoy? What would your child like to learn more about? Is there anything in particular you would like me to know about your child? Please email me (Cassidy.firstname.lastname@example.org) before school starts. Email is one of the ways that I keep in touch with parents, so this will give me a chance to have your email address as well.
I’d like you to send all of your child’s school supplies on the first day of school. We will share most items, but it would help a lot if you would put your child’s name on his or her scissors and headphones or earbuds before they come to school.
Please ask your child what he or she wonders about grade one and print the answer on the “wonder card” I have enclosed. I’m not looking for anything profound, just whatever it is that your child is wondering about.
Please also have your child print his or her name on the front of the wonder card and send it with your child on the first day of school.
Watch for a note early in the year about a special parent night!
See you soon.
Hopefully these letters will be the start of wonderful learning relationships with the students and their parents.
What do you include in the letter to your students?