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Classroom Management: Crafting a Parent Newsletter

Jordan Catapano

Making phone calls or sending emails to your students’ parents is an essential part of classroom management. We must make sure we are using classroom management to build partnerships at home so that student learning is supported from all areas of their lives. But calling every student’s parent or sending individual emails can be an extremely time-consuming classroom management procedure. If you’re interested in sending the same message to all of your students’ parents at the same time, you might want to try creating a classroom newsletter.

Classroom Management: Why Send Home a Newsletter?

Sometimes the message little children share about what’s going on at school is confusing or skewed. Sometimes teenaged students share complaints, or (if they’re like me as a teenager) nothing at all. A newsletter helps to bridge the communication gap from school to home, going from teachers directly to parents.

This direct communication is essential for ensuring parents are on exactly the same page as teachers. Teachers can share about the classroom and learning, which helps parents know more about what’s happening in their children’s lives on a daily basis. This also goes a long way in developing trusting relationships, as parents feel like they are a part of what’s occurring in the classroom.

Parents’ knowledge of what’s happening in class helps to reinforce student learning, too. Parents can pick up where teachers leave off, and continue the process of education at home along the same standards as the classroom.

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Ultimately your newsletter can help stimulate conversations between parents-students and parents-teachers. Parents can talk to their children about what they’re learning, and can feel more open to asking questions to teachers. The doors of communication swing wide open when parents are empowered with information about their students’ learning.

What You Could Include

Here are some practical suggestions for what you could include in your newsletter to parents:

  • What students will be learning. This helps to prep your parents for how they can be a part of the upcoming learning process.
  • What they have been doing. Give a report on what skills and content their students should recently have learned about.
  • Pictures. Take photos of your classroom activities periodically and include them in the newsletter. The visuals supplement the words and give parents a direct view into what a day in the classroom looks like.
  • How parents can help. Beyond just giving a report on what students are learning, give parents practical suggestions for what they can do to help their children at home.
  • Reminders and announcements. Include important upcoming dates for field trips, tests, project due dates, assemblies, or other events parents should know about.
  • Invitations. Want to bring parents into your class or have them help out in some way? Let them know in your newsletter! Definitely invite parents to follow up with you personally about their individual student, too.
  • News about school/community. Extend your content beyond your classroom and consider what is going on around the school community parents might want to know about.
  • Timeline. What time period does this newsletter cover, and when should they expect the next one? This helps parents feel a sense of context and orientation regarding the information they’re reading.
  • Testimonials. Don’t let all the words be your own. Gather a few statements from your students about what they’re doing in class and share those with families as well!
  • Actionable follow up. Include one easy follow-up action parents can take after reading your newsletter. Ask them to get in touch with you, to help with a particular project, or to join your social network. This helps parents stay informed and feel like a part of your classroom’s learning.

Three Formats for Your Newsletter

You could create a physical paper newsletter, a digital newsletter, or even a video newsletter. Consider your audience and the type of communication that would work best for them.

With a physical newsletter you will need to consider the space on the page, and other elements like if you will send this newsletter via students or mail it home directly. This can be the most practical format as it puts a physical copy directly into the hands of your parents, but it can also be the most limiting, as options related to space, color, content, and cost may be limited.

A digital newsletter might offer you more creative options when it comes to the use of color and design. You can likely include more creative formatting, as well as more pictures and content as you’re not limited by space or expense. This may require a certain degree of proficiency with tech skills if you’re looking to take full advantage of this medium, but you could easily keep it simple as well. This newsletter will have to be emailed to parents, and it could also be posted to your class website and social media accounts.

And if you’re feeling savvy, you could put together a video newsletter. This requires some comfort with using video editing tools. But even a basic familiarity with apps like Splice or iMovie could yield a professional looking newsletter. You could talk directly to the camera and also include footage from class time. Upload your video to YouTube or post on your website, then share the link with parents!

Start Small and Grow

When we endeavor to start new tasks like a classroom newsletter, we can often feel overwhelmed by how extensive or time consuming the task can be. But our flaw here is that we’re thinking too big, too fast. Yes, crafting a world-class newsletter can be extensive and time-consuming, but who said you need to earn a gold medal with your first one?

If you’re serious about starting a classroom newsletter, start small. Focus on the basics and get the message to parents. As you grow comfortable and familiar with the task, you’ll find that you can begin easily incorporating more creative content, formats, and ideas! Remember that your newsletter should first and foremost be useful to parents; once you nail that, you can add the flair.

What tips would you add for putting together a useful newsletter to parents? Share your ideas with our community in the comments below!

Jordan Catapano is a high school English teacher in a Chicago suburb. In addition to being National Board Certificated and head of his school’s Instructional Development Committee, he also has worked with the Illinois Association of Teachers of English and has experience as a school board member for a private school. You can follow him on Twitter at @BuffEnglish, or visit his website