Communication starts with expectations. If you start the year with a strong, clear message about you, your classroom, and your expectations you can be on track for an incredible school year. Here are four suggestions that can get your year off to a great start.
1. Set up your mobile messaging group
ClassDojo Messenger is a web browser and mobile messaging service that will bridge the gap between home and school. ClassDojo Messenger allows you to not only send whole class broadcasts to parents, but also privately and securely message parents about individual students.
2. Record a video introduction
Introduce yourself to everyone via video. The goal should be to instill confidence and communicate your professionalism (as well as your 21st century skills.) If you have certain school supplies, communicate those as well with examples to show. If you want students to come to class prepared, even show them how to assemble their binder. Set expectations about the year. Not everyone will come to open house but many will watch your video.
Create a link to your video after you’ve uploaded it to YouTube or SchoolTube by using a link shortener like bit.ly or goo.gl. Use this link in your emails or letters home. You can also see how many people went to that link, which will help you decide if it is worth the time next year.
3. Create your email list of parents (and students)
While you may not have every email of every parent, if you can have some, prepare to send a message to your group. Use a service like Boomerang to schedule these messages now. For example, you can send a reminder the day you start preplanning that you’re at school and excited. You can go ahead and write that email now and schedule it to be sent on a certain day. Imagine the power of an email that says,
“It is 8:00 am on the first day of school for me this year and the first thing I thought about is my new students!”
4. Send a letter home to your students
Include information on signing up for ClassDojo Messenger, a link to your video, and mention the email list to your parents in a letter that you mail home. Mention any school supplies or other important procedures such as how to schedule a conference.
Set expectations for how you’ll communicate. If this is the only letter sent home for the year, emphasize how you will communicate: bookbags, email, text messages? Let parents know what to expect.
Whether you use these specific suggestions or adapt your own, you should have a plan. The first time families hear from you should be a positive experience where you demonstrate your professionalism, set expectations, and communicate clearly. This can set a positive tone for the whole year. Good luck and start well!