Thursday, July 24, 2014

Back to School Welcome Postcards

Welcome your new students before you ever meet them!

Back to School Welcome Postcards Western Theme

As an elementary school teacher, I found that new students (and their parents!) were often nervous about their (or their child’s) new teacher. I wanted to allay those fears as soon as possible, but how?

Class lists were a closely guarded secret until the Friday before the start of a new school year. At 5:00 p.m., the office staff would lock the doors, post the class lists, draw the shades, and escape out the back door. Anyone remaining inside the office could hear the angry buzz as parents realized that the ONE teacher (out of five or six at the grade level) whom they had carefully vetted and chosen as their child’s teacher, was not the one to whom their child had been assigned for the upcoming school year!

Class Lists Taped Inside the Windows at 5:00 Friday

The office phone began an incessant ringing, as a long series of furious parents demanded immediate meetings with the principal, in order to get their babies the “RIGHT” teacher. All the teachers knew from experience that our principal would make NO class changes for at least two weeks, in order to allow the dust to settle.

Parents Try to Move Their Children to the "RIGHT" teacher's Class

In the meantime, every teacher on campus knew that they would have at least a handful (often more) of parents who DID NOT want their children in that particular teacher’s classroom. Instead, they wanted their child moved IMMEDIATELY to the class of the teacher they had chosen. What were the teachers to do?

From experience, I knew I had to be proactive in order to improve the situation before these children (and their parents) entered my classroom on Monday! After much trial and error over the years, I came up with several things I could do to improve the situation, allay parents’ fears, and welcome my new students before the school year started.

Welcome Back to School Superhero Postcards

First, I sent postcards to my new students. As soon as class lists were released to teachers, I asked the school secretary to print out labels with the names and addresses of all my new students. I affixed these to welcome postcards, which I had already prepared with a message from me to each student. All I had to do was to write each child’s name in the greeting of their card, affix the address labels and stamps, and they would be ready to mail.

Welcome Back to School Postcards Terrific Kids Theme

On these postcards I invited students and parents to an informal “Meet and Greet” with me, in my classroom, over the weekend, as I prepared my classroom for the new school year.  I encouraged them to bring their school supplies, so they could drop them off in the classroom and have them ready for the first day. (This also allowed me to get a quick idea of which students could not afford supplies, so that I could arrange for school supplies to waiting for them at their desks the first day. J)

Welcome Back to School Postcards Detective Theme

I set specific hours on Saturday afternoon and Sunday when I would be available in my classroom, knowing that the school would be unlocked at this time, and the gates would be open. Many other teachers would be in their rooms, putting the final touches on their classroom environments and getting ready for the new school year. I put the completed postcards cards in the mail at the post office Friday morning, so that the cards would arrive to my new students’ homes by Saturday afternoon.

It's important to put the cards in the mail in time to reach your students before the "Meet and Greet."

Many parents and students stopped by my classroom during those hours. Many of the children held tightly to the postcard in their hands, a shy smile on their faces. I made sure to stop whatever I was doing and greet each child and their parents as they entered my room. I showed each child their new desk, with their nameplate and books. I encouraged them to take a look around, and ask any questions they might have.

Have student nameplates and books on their desks before the "Meet and Greet." Place a large Post-it note on the nameplate so that they can write any spelling changes they want for their nameplates. I gladly make these changes later, because I feel it is important to have preliminary nameplates ready for the "Meet and Greet." The few changes I have to make more than makes up for the positive feelings created in students when they see their names on their desks. The ones I have to change are even better, as the students come in the first day of school to the correct version of their names already on the desks. :) 

My new students often head straight to some interesting are of the classroom (such as the classroom library) and immediately begin to explore. Then parents are free to meet with me, ask questions, and begin to realize that I am an experienced teacher, and that I have the best interests of their child in mind. More than one worried parent has shared with me that the postcards I sent were the first piece of mail their child had ever received, and that they really appreciated the personal touch.

Students Curl Up with a Classroom Library Book

You can find welcome postcards at most school supply stores. I created my own, so that I only have to type the welcome message once. Then I handwrite each student’s name in the greeting to personalize his or her card.

If you are interested in any of my Back to School Welcome Postcards, you can find them in my store at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Next time I’ll write about the letter I send to parents at the beginning of each school year. J Until then!

Have a fabulous week!

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