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One of the many forms that teachers send home on the first day of school is an “About Me” letter. This introductory letter serves as a way for the teacher to introduce him/herself to a new class of students and their families. In a way, this letter serves as a first impression, and first impressions need to be good.
So, how do you craft such a letter? Here are our tips to writing an effective, engaging “About Me” for your class.
1) Follow School Policy. Teachers in the same grade-level may use a template so that each teacher’s letter has a similar feel to it and includes all the same types of general information. First and foremost, be sure to follow your school’s policy before writing and sending home an introductory letter.
2) Include Your Teaching History. How many years have you been teaching? How many of those years have been at your current school? What grade levels have you taught and/or related positions have you held?
3) Put Yourself in Their Shoes. Pretend you are a parent on the receiving end of this letter. What message do you most want to get across? What would you most like to know about your child’s teacher? Make sure you include it!
4) Advertise Your Unique Qualities and Skills. Perhaps you’ve visited all seven continents and have a passion for social studies. Maybe you’re fluent in American Sign Language, and your class will perform a song in ASL at the Winter Holiday Performance. Or in my case, I have a pen pal who lives in Japan. (We’ve been writing for 25 years!). I brought my pen pal relationship into the classroom in a local way. Each year, my fourth grade classes wrote to fourth grade pen pals at another Los Angeles area-elementary school, and each spring we met on a joint field trip.
5) Supply Some Personal Information. Where did you go to college? Where did you grow up? Are you a local? (I always told my classes that I was born, raised, and have continued to live in the same zip code). Some teachers opt to keep their families out of their “about me” letters. Others provide brief bits of information (i.e. I’m the parent of a young son). When in doubt, check with others at your grade level.
6) Extend an Invitation. The truth is, you can’t do it alone. You need the help and support of your students’ families. Make sure they know that from the beginning. Let them know when they can expect to hear from you (i.e. weekly) and how (i.e. with a brief newsletter). Remind them to reach out to you with any questions or concerns they may have. And on that note …
7) Provide Contact Information. How do you prefer families to contact you? By leaving a phone message with the school office staff? By email? A class website? A note sent to school and left in your mailbox in the school’s office or placed in a child’s school folder?