Beginnings are important. A good beginning draws you in – into the story or movie, into the friendship or relationship, into the learning or work. They make you want more. A bad beginning isn’t irrecoverable, it just takes a whole lot of work to overcome it, to push past it.
Each year as I “begin” with a new set of families, I try to make sure that we have a good beginning. The first step with most of them is the “Welcome” letter that goes home.
- In my letter, I start with the idea that we are a team. I always try to remember that at the heart of the matter, we all want what’s best for the student. We might have different perspectives and we might have different ideas of what is best, but behind it all we want the same thing. We just have to work together to figure out how to get there.
- I move on to talk about what I believe about math. I want families to know that it is about thinking, seeing patterns and relationships, making connections, and solving problems.
- Next, I address the “business” of my class.I want families to understand that kids are still figuring things out when they are in the middle of a unit. Hence, homework is all about effort not about being perfect so I grade it accordingly. I want them to understand that collaboration is a big part of what we do so discussing thinking and homework with friends and family is encouraged. I want them to know that I see a big difference between collaboration and copying. Hence, I want them to understand the consequences for crossing that particular line. I want families to understand that my class is a place where we work and learn – that things that detract from that don’t have a place there.
- Finally, I let families know that I.want to hear from them. I tell them how to reach me and I ask them to complete a form telling me whatever they want me to know about their student.
Here is my ParentLetter2016.doc. I think there is a new teacher out there who was looking for these (but I can’t remember who it is).