By Teachers, For Teachers
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.
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.
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.
Here are some practical suggestions for what you could include in your newsletter to parents:
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!
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 TeachHUB.com 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 www.jordancatapano.us.