Back to School: Classroom Welcome Letters

Posted by in The English Classroom | 4 comments

The first days back to school always entail a flurry of documents that students and parents alike must read, sign, and return. Like many teachers, you probably spend the first day of class going over the rules and expectations of your classroom. It’s important to start the year with the right tone, and a great classroom welcome letter can really help.

 

Picture of woman reading.

 

You can view an example of the ENG 9 Qtr 1 Welcome Letter  that I sent home with my English 9 students. Feel free to use the document as a template to format your own letter. I’m happy to be of assistance! It’s possible to photocopy the following details on double-sided sheet of paper. A thorough back to school letter should contain the following:

  1. Contact Information
  2. Teacher Biography
  3. Course Purpose
  4. Course of Study
  5. Supplemental Materials
  6. Student Responsibilities
  7. Needed Supplies
  8. Organization Pointers
  9. Website Address
  10. Code of Conduct
  11. Discipline Policy
  12. Homework Policy
  13. Missing Class
  14. Late Work
  15. Handbook Policies
  16. Assessment Measures
  17. Extra Credit
  18. Portfolio, Labs, etc.
  19. Signatures

 

We all know that introducing classroom rules and expectations can be pretty boring for both teacher and student, but you should only be limited by your imagination over how to introduce the concepts in your back to school letter to your students. The worst thing you can do is just to read it to them! UGH. 

 

What unique approaches have you tried to communicate such information to your students?

 

Photo credit: rachel sian / Foter / CC BY-NC

 

Jeri Walker-Bickett
JeriWB writes short stories, creative nonfiction, and psychological suspense. The rough Idaho mining town she grew up in populates her literary landscape. She also works as a freelance editor.
Jeri Walker-Bickett

@JeriWB

Author of short stories, creative nonfiction, and psychological suspense. Blogger of writing tips and lit chat. Freelance editor. http://t.co/sfCsmQ5hyM
R.P. Marshall discusses the inspiration for writing his first novel, Antisense. - @rpmarshall... http://t.co/hYPFWv9uau via @PublishingPush - 57 mins ago
Jeri Walker-Bickett
Jeri Walker-Bickett
Jeri Walker-Bickett
I offer a variety of freelance editing services. Previously, I served as an editorial assistant with The Idaho Review, Boise State's literary journal.

4 Comments

  1. I have only been a substitute teacher. Ironically, I’ve taught 9th graders. I have a question for you. Would the students pay closer attention to your welcome letter if it was written as a more personal one? I’m thinking particularly about where you write about yourself, the teacher. Instead of writing about yourself in 3rd person, they may respond better if you made it 1st person so that they can get to know your personality.

    Just a suggestion.

    • Glynia, I keep the letter short and to the point because there’s so much to cover in the first few meetings. Most years, I started off with a PowerPoint set to music that incorporates pictures from my returning students who are now sophomores. For the freshmen, I do a variety of getting to know you activities depending on what feels appropriate. So the letter is really just a jumping off point that is part of many other activities that work to build a sense of community and respect.

  2. Hi Jeri,

    Your letter sounds like my syllabus, which at college level is like a contract between student and teacher. This term I am teaching brand new college kids, and so I paid attention to that, explaining about how important a syllabus is, why they need it, and what the most valuable parts of it are, and why. I told a few stories about people who ignored their syllabus and how it backfired for them. I never get bored talking about how our class will go. Although I did receive a bunch of mail in my box and have not looked at it yet! Memos and things. LOL. And I need to send syllabus to secretary, stat!

    Good luck with your new school year. I checked your list, and honestly, we both cover the same stuff! One thing I do that K-12 does not is give a complete semester overview, with all the homework, reading, test dates, paper due dates, etc. That’s the key to the syllabus. I tape it to my folder and look at it every day and my students, if they want to do well, need to do that, too.

    • Cynthia, interesting you should note my welcome letter reminds you of your college syllabus since my letter was based on the design of my syllabus that I used when I taught composition to college freshmen. At the high school level, I resisted posting a weekly list as assemblies, etc. were always bound to interfere. I wish I would take you wish of luck to heart for a new school year, but this is the fourth year I’ve been away from the classroom. Little by little, I’m starting to make a go of freelancing.

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