building community, classroom setup, new teacher, new year

Some Ways To Show My Students They Matter

This year we start the first day of school with a first day of school.  And while there will be no orientation day, no meet and greet, I still want them to feel that excitement of a new year, a new room, a new group of kids, and definitely a new teacher.   I want them to know that I am so happy to teach them, because I am!  So I have been thinking of little ways I can show them how much they matter, feel free to add more in the comments.

  • The welcome letter – I spend a lot of time crafting this letter because I want them to get to know me a little bit, get excited about the great things we will explore, and for them to feel welcomed.  I change it every year, but here is last year’s letter as an example.  (Don’t mind the atrocious picture quality, I had to compress the file).
  • The book bins – Every student will have a book bin waiting for them with books carefully selected from last year’s students.  On each book is a post-it note explaining why the book was chosen and how much they loved it.  I hope this makes my new students excited about reading.

    Student created book bins with selected books
    Student created book bins with selected books
  • The letters from former students – each student also has a handwritten letter from my old students giving them tips on 5th grade, insider information about “surviving” their new teacher, and things they can look forward to.  I love the care my old students take to welcome the new students even though they are not at the school anymore.  (And I keep these letters every year after the new students have read them).
  • Pencils with messages – these don’t show up for a few weeks as I get to know them but I love leaving small messages on number 2 pencils.  Why buy them pre-printed when you can write exactly what you want with a sharpie?

    messages on pencils from last year
    messages on pencils from last year
  • Purchasing their favorite picture books – I have been on a picture book binge this summer – they are just so absolutely fantastic.  So what better way than to expand my library then by asking my students what their favorite picture book is and then surprise reading it aloud for them at some point?  I cannot wait to make this a reality, even if it means spending more of my own money on books.
  • The precepts – we finished last year sharing “Wonder” and I asked my students to write precepts for how to love 5th grade.  They did and these will be welcoming my new students in the hallway leading to our room.
  • The family picture – Someone smart (and if it was you please let me know so I can give you credit) wrote about how they would have students bring in a family picture to leave in the classroom all year.  I love this idea!  So I will ask every child to bring in a special picture (or photocopy of one) and then we will make a display out of all of them for the whole year.  I want the students to feel this is is their room as much as mine right from the beginning.

I am sure as summer winds down there will be more ideas, but for now I am excited about these.  What will you be doing?

26 thoughts on “Some Ways To Show My Students They Matter”

  1. I love the idea of a book box made for them! I have my fourth graders create presentations- (some online, some offline) of their favorite fourth grade books. I then hang them up for the beginning of the year so that the new students can see what excited the old students. I also have done the letters to new fourth graders by experienced fourth graders– we put them on our LMS, and use it as a way to learn how to log in and view our class site. Keep up the great work!

  2. Seriously the pencil message is GENIUS! Love it and will use it as a PBIS strategy!! Thanks for the share….

    Heather Garza
    heathergarza26 (Twitter)

  3. Any child would be lucky to be in your class! Love the whole package, but the letter and the pencils are just so brilliant and I just may have to share 🙂

  4. Great ways are shared here for teachers by which they can show that how much students matter to them! And its very important to make students realize this! This increases the bonding between a teacher and student!

  5. Lovely to be welcomed in a new class like this. And the whole idea that old students prepare and care for the welcoming of the new ones is brilliant: makes the old ones feel in charge of some relevant issue and let the new ones feel to be really important human beings. As they all are.

  6. Could you post a template for your letter to parents??? I LOVE IT!!! I try to talk to keep my parents informed, but that initial letter is ROCKIN’! I teach high school — 9th grade. It’s a big transition year. I work hard to move them to more independent workers/thinkers. That transition is a lot easier the more I keep my parents involved. Anything you could share would be wonderful!!!
    GREAT ideas!!!

    1. I will dig around in my files for the template, not quite sure where I got it from, however, if you send me your email at p@globalreadaloud (dot) com then I can mail it to you when i find it.

  7. Just wondering if the uplifting messages on the pencils help your students hang on to their pencils longer. In my daughter’s 6th grade class the students go through pencils like water. She has tried all kinds of things with them. They are just very irresponsible.

    1. I think it is just part of the brain development stage, no these messages do not help them hang on to their pencils. I just pick up the pencils that are left behind and put them in my “borrow a pencil cup.”

  8. I’m not claiming to be that smart person, but I’ve mentioned from time to time, via Twitter, that my students bring pictures to post on our “Friends and Family” board in our classroom.

  9. That’s my picture of the pencils on my desk in my handwriting from 2 1/2 years ago.
    I have no idea where you got the picture, but that is my photo, please remove it.

    1. Nope, that’s the picture from the original blog post here which was published in 2013, it was used as well in my book Passionate Learners that came out four years ago. And that is my handwriting.

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