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?

new teacher, new year, parents

My Beginning of the Year Parent Questionnaire

Two of my three kids; and that's who this is all about
Two of my three kids; and that’s who this is all about

Yesterday I shared my student questionnaire so I find it only apt to share my parent questionnaire as well.  While there are so many things I wanted to ask my parents, I wanted to keep it short and to the point.  As always, feel free to make a copy and make it your own.

Here is a link to the actual form

Here are just the questions on the form:

Tell Me A Little Bit About Your Child

  1. What is the most important thing I should know about your child?

  2. What is your child passionate about?

  1. What would you love your child to get better at?

  1. Overall how does your child feel about school and 5th grade?

  1. My child learns best when the teacher is….

  1. Great friends for my child are ….

  1. My child does not work well with…

  1. What is your child’s favorite book?

  1. What fears does your child have?  (Big or small)

  1. What is the best way to motivate your child?

Tell Me A Little Bit About You and Your Family

  1. What are you looking forward to with 5th grade?

  1. How would you like to be involved with your child’s education?

  1. What is your preferred method of communication (email, phone call, meeting, note…)

  1. Does your family have any special celebrations or traditions you would like to share with the class?

  1. What subject/area did you dislike when you went to school?

  1. What subject/area did you love when you went to school?

  1. I think 5th grade will be….

  1. A typical afternoon after school looks like this in our life…

  1. Who else lives at your house (siblings, pets etc.?)

  1. Anything else you would like to tell me that will help me make this a successful year?