Well-executed classroom newsletters are one of the best management resources a teacher can have. Whether by email, dropbox or traditional paper, you cannot go wrong with committing to a weekly forma of communication with your students' families..
Teachers - especially those without kids - need to remember that many children do not go home and tell their parents all of the wonderful things you do during the school day.
Usually they say, "Nothing." I know because my own boys say that all the time, but newsletters really are a life-saver for many parents.
I am an advocate for weekly newsletters in the primary grades and at least monthly in intermediate. That may seem like a lot of work, but once you get a great newsletter template that you like, it's easy just to fill in the blanks.
When my oldest son went to first grade, I was truly worried that I would not know what was going on in his day. He is a child who has never told me a lot, so I was desperately hoping for a teacher who had great parent teacher communication skills.
I did not have to worry - his first grade teacher started sending home weekly classroom newsletters the first week of school. It was so helpful to me to be able to have something to talk with my son about. It opened up avenues of communication between us and helped me to help him keep organized during the school year.
I began modeling my classroom newsletters after his first grade teacher and it has been one of the best classroom management resources I have in my "tool box." Try it out - you will love the rewards!
One of the characteristics of a good teacher is being sure families have an avenue to support their child with school and opening lines of parent teacher communication.
When you begin to design a classroom newsletter template, ask these questions first:
Do you want parents to know mostly about events coming up or what you are doing curriculum wise?
Do you want a section on behavior management or not?
Will your classroom newsletters be personalized or just a quick note?
I use the same newsletter template every year, simply because I like it. It takes me about 15 minutes to write it each Thursday night and I "personalize" each one very quickly the next day at school (usually about 5 minutes for all). I always include:
1. Curriculum News
This is the bulk of the newsletter. I include things we did in class during the week, upcoming units of study and any particular mentions regarding school related issues. I adjust the font size to either 10 or 12, depending on how much I have to say, or if I am just too tired to write any more! It's a nice little trick that keeps it looking full each week.
2. Focus Skills
These are the state standards that we are working on. I write them out in "kid-friendly" language that makes sense to parents. No, I don't list everything. Just a few that I know would be of special interest.
3. Save the Date
This is just a quick blurb about upcoming events like BookFairs, skating parties or field trips.
4. Weekly Behavior Update
I just included this one this year. The idea came to my from a colleague who does it on her newsletter. This was one of those AHA! moments where I slapped my forehead and wondered why I had never thought of using newsletters as classroom management resources before. I just check off the behaviors each child is showing that week and send it home. My students have all told me that their parents look at that first thing and they are in trouble if they get any negative check marks.
5. Personalize your Newsletters
Improve parent teacher communication by leaving a blank linke at the top by the date and hand-write each student's name on it. Then, check off their behaviors, add a written note if necessary and send it home.
An author study is a great way to connect kids and families. Patricia Polacco is known for her memoirs and her stories speak to students at all levels.
Whether you use them for read alouds or as independent studies, Patricia Polacco books will be a great fit for your classroom.
Recommended for grades 2-4, or as an intervention for grades 5-6.