When I was a teacher, I resisted anything school-related during the summer. I honestly just wanted to be left alone and have a clean break from the job that drained so much from me during the school year. So I bristled at any summer PD, book studies, or other tasks. I did my job, but I wasn’t happy about it. But one thing I never minded was sending a letter to connect with my homeroom students as the school year drew near.
As a parent, I know that students are anxious to learn which teacher(s) they will have for the upcoming school year. It’s always the most exciting part of gearing up for back-to-school in our house as my own boys look forward to a letter or postcard from their teachers.
I know it’s a requirement for many of you this summer. But maybe you’re stumped on what to send, or maybe you’re simply bored with what you’ve done before. Here are a few ideas to connect with your students (and parents) before school starts up:
Write A Letter
Most days, the mail is mostly full of ads, credit card applications, and other useless junk. So receiving an actual personalized letter is a super exciting mini-event. The great thing about a letter is that you can reuse much of the same information year to year, introducing yourself and your curriculum. Include some fun facts about what students will learn, and pull some highlights from the curriculum for them to look forward to. Here’s a welcome letter idea roundup with free ideas if you have writer’s block.
Send A Postcard
Keep things short and sweet with a postcard. The image could be a collage of your favorite books, a photo of your classroom, a fun image, or even a picture of your lovely smiling face. Pare down the info you’d send in a letter. You can customize a postcard for free on sites like this one, where you can order 50 postcards for less than $20 (at the time this article was written). Ask admin for some money to help cover the cost.
Send An Email
Emails are huge time-savers and will cause less of an interruption to your much-needed summer vacation. (And if you teach secondary, this is the way to go.) Emails allow you to include additional helpful information via links for parents and students. You can send links to fun websites, your virtual classroom, educational games, and supplemental learning activities.
Email Tip: As wonderfully convenient as emails are, some of us tend to get a little long-winded (*grins sheepishly*). Try not to overload students and parents with too much information in this initial email. They’re enjoying their summer too, and they don’t want to feel overwhelmed. Keep it brief and break up large amounts of text with boldface subtitles. Highlight the most important things you want to know in a bright color for quick reference later.
Set Up Your Online Class
Whatever online learning platform you use, consider setting it up and sending out the invite code to parents and students. Add some fun summer content that relates to your class – maybe some e-learning games, trivia about your curriculum, or a digital puzzle for students to put together. Add some content-related practice (don’t forget about our library of FREEsources!). Parents will appreciate something to keep their kids busy, and your students will love getting a sneak peek into the new year.
Send A Questionnaire
Obviously, nothing beats the face-to-face time you will soon have to get to know your kiddos. But consider sending out a questionnaire (with your letter OR as a Google Form via email) to get a little background on your students before you set eyes on them in person. If you get the surveys back, use that information to connect with them on the first day of school by sharing interests (“Hey–Kit Kats are my favorite candy bars too!”) or using the info to make up a fun nickname. Send the questionnaire with the promise of a little treat upon returning it–like a sucker or new pencil on the first day of school–and you’ll be more likely to get them back.
Consider these extras.
In your communication, you might include some fun or helpful information:
- a daily schedule (or example of one since yours likely isn’t set in stone)
- important dates for the year
- ways parents/guardians can help you
- a riddle (with the promise to discuss on the first day)
- a summer scavenger hunt
- your supply list
- a classroom wish list (dream big, teachers!)
- last-minute summer reading suggestions.
Pro tip: Use this task as an excuse to get together with your teacher besties. Make a half day of it. Order in some lunch, put on some fun music, and reconnect while you stuff envelopes or organize your email.
Does your admin require you to connect with students and parents in the summer? Drop your best tips or ideas in the comments below!
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