I know that parents oftentimes don’t expect a lot of communication from their child’s high school teacher. I am probably an exception. I have found that periodic contact cuts down on the nit picky notes and complaints when parents don’t know what’s going on.
As Wednesday is the first day of school (which translates I’m too exhausted to write a “real” post right now), I thought I’d share the parent letter I send out to all of my English 11 parents the day before school starts. It generally gets some replies from parents, mostly “thank-yous” for reaching out.
I encourage you to reach out to parents before school starts (or soon thereafter) and keep your contact consistent. If you have questions or thoughts, please leave a comment!
Welcome Letter to Parents
Dear parents and guardians,
I am so excited to be teaching your child this year in English 11! And I’m not just saying that. I’ve learned in my ten years of teaching that enthusiasm goes a long way, so I hope to foster some in my students (and their parents) along the way!
I am writing today with varied purposes: I want you to know me, where I’m coming from and why, and what is in store for students this year. I hope you’ll bear with me through this rather lengthy email (sorry!).
My name is Kristy and I have been a Hoover teacher for 9 of my 12 years of teaching. I’m a transplant from Michigan (Go Western Michigan Broncos! Anyone? No? Okay then…) but after ten years in the South, I have definitely grown to love it (almost) as much as home. As your child will learn about me soon, I love to read (and share what I’m reading with anyone who will listen), I own a horse (dream come true) and three adorable dogs, and I love to travel. And, you’ve probably noticed, I like to use asides in my writing…and in real life too. Anyway, while I spend a lot of my time pursuing hobbies and personal interests, the rest of my time is spent thinking about teaching. I dream about it. I get ideas while driving. It’s sort of all-encompassing. All this to say, I am serious about helping your student be successful because it is my biggest motivation.
Of course, you know, I can only meet them as far as they are willing to come, but usually students learn pretty quickly that I genuinely care about their success and they (eventually) meet me at least half way. My goal as an English teacher is not only to help your child improve his or her writing and reading, but also speaking, and thinking.
Eleventh grade is a magical year. Suddenly students realize that the “real world” is coming up faster than they thought. In just one year, those applying for college will be diligently filling out applications. And they will all, regardless of their plans after high school, be making some major decisions very soon. This is THE year. This is when kids get serious. These are just some of the reasons I LOVE teaching eleventh grade. If I am teaching your oldest child, you might be amazed at the maturity that happens this year; I know I always am! I also love it because this year students generally realize that reading, writing, speaking, and thinking are…wait for it…actually important! Now, you and I know this, but kids have been playing the game of school for so long, they often forget the end game.
Well, I promise you, this year they will get a reminder. For some, it will be a major change from tenth grade. Suddenly they will be reading and writing every day. They will be expected to participate in thoughtful discourse on a regular basis. We will write. We will argue. We will discuss. We will read. But we will also laugh together, support each other, and learn together.
This year I plan to implement a few changes to my curriculum. We will of course meet the standards set forth by the government and Hoover, but I hope to do so in a more engaging, “real world” way. I believe it is my job not just to prepare students to go to college or a career, but to prepare them to be informed, contributing citizens. At this point, teachers need to be preparing their students for anything.
Speaking of informed citizens, did you know that 40% of Americans can’t name the Vice President? Is it just me, or is that kind of scary? While it is not my intention to teach civics in this class, we will be doing some current events through reading relevant articles on a regular basis. Sometimes we might disagree with what the article says. But that’s okay. Because in order to understand something, we need to know BOTH sides. We need to be well informed in the entire conversation, not just our side of it. This year it is my hope that your student will leave my class having read 20-30 articles, many of which will be about topics they know little to nothing about. That’s a lot. Not only will they be more informed, they will also be better readers.
In addition, students will be writing everyday. Not all of it will be graded–research actually shows that the grade and the feedback are less important than the writing itself–and not all of it will be formal, but all practice is good practice.
I will preach to the kids about the importance of being challenged, the importance of failing, and the importance of trying. Sometimes assignments or tasks will feel daunting to a student, but if we are not challenged, we do not grow. Sometimes we fail. Right? I know I’ve failed at many things in my academic and personal life, but from those experiences I have learned. I want students to understand that if they don’t try, they can’t succeed. If they fail, that’s okay…try again! If they are challenged, then they are learning.
Okay, I’ll wrap this up now (I could go on for several pages, but I’m already feeling guilty for the length of this). I hope that you will take time everyday (or as often as possible) to ask your child about what they are doing in English (and their other classes). Please know that if they say “nothing”, they are pulling your leg. Ask them about what they’re reading, writing, discussing. At the end of this letter I have information for keeping up with what’s going on in class via Remind. Also, I will share via email periodically.
I hope that your student enjoys 11th grade as much as I enjoy teaching them! If you need anything or have any concerns or questions, please email me at @emal.com or call me at (###) ###-####. I will respond within 48 hours.
There is no Open House this year, but I would still love to meet you! If you don’t want to wait until conference day in October, please feel free to contact me to set up a time to meet!