Writing the Dreaded Parent Letter

So, You’re Writing Your Parent Letter…

Have you looked at the calendar lately, or are you in August denial like I always was?  This is the time of year when teachers who are procrastinators make themselves believe that they still have WEEKS before they have to accomplish anything for the first week of school; others already have been schlepping new pencil holders and posters and markers and folders into their stale, hot classrooms for a week.

One thing that I always saw teacher friends doing first on their back-to-school lists was their parent letter. Honestly, I think there are just as many names for them as there are teachers who write them: Welcome Notes, Back-to-School Newsletter, Parent Information Sheet, Parent Letters – you know what I mean. You probably have one saved in the Back to School folder on your desktop that you have perfected and only need to add the first-day-back date to before making copies.

When I was writing my parent letters, I always thought about what I wanted to say in them versus what I actually could say in them. Just in case you’re having trouble turning on that teacher filter now that the first day of school quickly is approaching, here is a list of ideas for saving not only your job but also parent perception of you. If nothing else, I hope they give you a good chuckle.

When You Want to Say… … Say This Instead
If your little cherub doesn’t bring a pencil to my class one more time, I’m going to duct tape one to his hand. I will provide extra pencils throughout the school year, as I can afford them, so that your student can learn, even on his forgetful days. However, if the problem persists, we may need to formulate a plan for helping him remember to come to class prepared.
If your kid doesn’t do his homework one more time, I’m going to come to your home and see if you even have a dog who keeps eating it. Homework is an important part of the learning process, and I expect it to be completed with educational integrity and turned in on time so that I can ensure your student understands the key concepts from class.
I know your kid would be better off in CTE and not CCSS, but the state and federal government and educational groups are bound and determined that all kids go to college. They don’t like operating in reality. We will do all that we can to make sure that your students’ interests are met this year. Even though this is a high-stakes testing environment, we need to keep your student motivated by encouraging his participation in Career and Technical Education, art, or music classes, or other areas that are of interest to him.
I know she’s not going to college and that just getting her to write a paragraph will be a challenge. I will do my best to meet your student where she is and grow her academically by the end of our year together.
I know he’s not into reading fiction/completing proofs/writing lab reports and wants to play on his phone and text his girlfriend all the time in class, but I can’t afford to lose this job because your kid is addicted to his smartphone. I will provide opportunities for your student to use technology as a tool in my classroom, and I expect all students to respect and follow my technology-in-the-classroom policy.
I know you put her into Honors knowing that she can’t handle the work just to avoid the “element” you are afraid she’d encounter in the regular classes. There is more rigor in the Honors class, as well as more independent work and complex writing. If your student does not think she can handle the workload, please contact the guidance counselor immediately to discuss options to ward off the impending frustration she is sure to encounter in my Honors class.

So, what is in your parent letter? I hope there’s at least a little bit of TRUTH in there, even if it’s hidden by semantics. Feel free to share some of your parent letter gems by clicking on “Leave a Reply” at the top or bottom of the post. Teach on!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *