Would it surprise you if I told you that I had never used a nice, formal class newsletter until about two years ago? Yes, I’m crying on the inside.
Prior to sending newsletters, I only sent a homework sheet home and left a few notes about upcoming dates at the bottom. The homework sheet was nothing fancy…or informative.
Yikes, right? Why would I waste precious trees for something that I didn’t even care about sending? No wonder I would typically find my homework sheets crumpled in my students’ cubbies by the middle of the week.
Well, as a teacher, and in life in general, you live and you learn. When I transferred to my new school and district, we were required to send a newsletter each week. I talked to my mentor teacher to inquire what I was supposed to put on this dang thing! She gave me suggestions about what typically goes on the newsletters, even showing me a few of the ones she used over the years.
Now I knew what content to include, but I had to also think about why I was sending it. What was the purpose of sending a weekly newsletter beyond the requirement by administration? How would I help my students and parents understand that the newsletters were important? I think that if I would have addressed these questions years before, my attempts to send newsletters home might have been more successful.
Whether you are new to teaching or a superhero teaching pro, here are a few ways you can use newsletters to keep parents informed about your classroom.
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Newsletters can inform parents about school news and classroom news.
What does it look like in my classroom? My newsletters tell parents about interesting things happening in the classroom and the school. Examples of school and classroom news that I’ve put on my newsletters in the past include mentioning our Donor’s Choose projects and encouraging parents to attend our annual Spring Fling event.
Newsletters can inform parents about current and upcoming events.
What does it look like in my classroom? I have a section on my newsletters that lists upcoming dates. I feel like this really benefits my parents. Even though we have a school calendar and district calendar, I place dates on my newsletter because parents might lose notes that come directly from the school that inform them about various events. It never hurts to give parents another reminder.
Newsletters can inform parents about homework assignments and tests.
What does it look like in my classroom? Depending on what grade you teach and how you handle homework, you might have to print out the week’s homework for your parents and students. I find that students in the upper grades tend to write their homework assignments in agendas or notebooks, so homework might not need to be printed out and sent home. I personally like my newsletters to contain the week’s homework assignments and notifications of the week’s tests. By doing this, my students and parents know what is expected regarding homework, and they also know when tests will occur.
What Are Other Advantages of Newsletters?
Newsletters can be placed in the home for easy viewing by parents and students. Every week, I remind my students to show their newsletters to their parents and then put it on the refrigerator. Of course, they can be placed anywhere at home, but the newsletter is great reference for my students and parents for the entire week.
Newsletters can also be considered another form of documentation. In the rare case that a parent says that they weren’t informed about a school or classroom event, a homework assignment, or a test assignment, you can show them your newsletter. Of course, there is a chance that your students forget to show their newsletters to their parents, but that is why I recommend having other ways for parents to access your newsletters. Keep reading to learn more about that.
How Can I Make Sure My Newsletters Make It Home?
I wish I could predict the future and tell you that every newsletter that you send home will make it into the lovely hands of your students’ parents, but I can’t. However, you can stress to your parents and students that the weekly newsletters are important.
One suggestion is to have a sample newsletter to show parents and students during Meet and Greet. Every year, I meet my parents and students a few days before school starts. This event gives parents and students a chance to check out their new teacher and their new classroom. During Meet and Greet, I show parents and students my newsletter and let them know to expect one to come home each week. Once school starts, I remind students that their parents will be looking for their newsletters.
I try to get another leg up by remind my parents that the newsletter is going home each week. I do this by sending parents a quick message using the Remind app. Sometimes I’ll also add something to the message like “The newsletter has important info about this week’s activities.”
Another reminder I give to my students is that the newsletter lists their homework for the week. It never fails that my students will ask on a weekly basis, “what’s for homework tonight?” My answer is always the same…”check your newsletter!” My students also know that I won’t give them another newsletter if it is misplaced. I set these expectations at the very start of the school year, and most if not all of my students are successful at keeping up with their newsletters.
My final suggestion is to make your newsletters accessible on your class page if you have one. Some districts create websites for its teachers while other teachers take it upon themselves to create their own through sites like Weebly and Blogger. If your parents and students have access to your class page, I suggest that you add a PDF file of each week’s newsletter. By doing this, parents can always access the newsletters.
What Kind of Newsletter Should I Use?
The type of newsletter that you use is totally up to you, teacher friend. If you love designing things, you might want to create your own. This is a great option because you will be able to design a newsletters that exactly meets your needs. If you ever need to change it around or add a section, you can easily do that too because you made it!
Another option is to find a pre-made template from online websites like Teachers Pay Teachers. I’ve created a free, black and white editable newsletter and a Melonheadz-inspired newsletter that you can use.
I designed this free, editable newsletter during my first year of teaching second grade. It’s a bit smaller than the other newsletter that I created but it is very functional depending on what you need your newsletter to say.
This Melonheadz-inspired newsletter was created during my second year of teaching second grade. This is the one that I use to this day. It’s not as busy as the other newsletter and uses the oh-so-cute Melonheadz kids clipart. As I mentioned earlier in the post, I use the front of the newsletter for things going on in the classroom, and I use the back to inform parents about the week’s skills and homework. This is a REALLY important part of my newsletter. My homework is pretty much the same each day of the week, so I am able to print it ahead of time. If your homework differs each day, you could print a new one each day and include the homework. Shop my TpT store to get these newsletters.
Newsletters are just one of the many ways to keep parents informed about what is going on in your classroom. In the comments below, tell me what you use to keep the lines of communication open between you and your parents. Do you use newsletters?
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