Winning Parent Support BEFORE the School Year Begins

I have been setting up my classroom and creating lesson plans months in advance so that I will be well prepared when school starts. One thing that I ALWAYS make a priority, that many teachers don’t really consider, is communicating with parents and students before school begins- and I’m not talking about just at Open House. I send parents a survey to be emailed back to me or to be brought to Open House. I prefer for the survey to be emailed back to me long before Open House because it helps me to plan my lessons better and be more effective in teaching each student in the way he or she learns. The feedback I have received from parents has been overwhelming. Most parents inform me that no previous teacher has ever sent communication over the summer, and they are very grateful for my proactive approach to make the year as successful as possible for their child. By sending the survey, parent know that I care for their child and I am their child’s advocate. Just by sending a form I have gained their full support. The evidence doesn’t lie. In my nine years of teaching, I have received only 1 complaint. ONE. Owl Survey Top Half

Owl Survey Pic 2

This survey might take time out of my summer, but the dividends are worth more than the time it took to input a few emails.


The pic above is a preview of  the survey. There are 3 pages total. The first page asks for basic information; the second page asks about the student’s learning styles, strengths and weaknesses, and inquires as to what motivates the student; the last page provides blank lines for parents to inform me of anything else they think is necessary. You can download this survey for FREE here.

In addition to communicating with parents, I also begin corresponding with my future students. I send post cards when I go on vacation, send an “About Me” letter with my picture, and I usually send them a small gift in the mail. This year I made bookmarks for all of my students. I think these are soooo cute!!! There are a lot of different stylistic pieces in the bookmarks, so I can’t really do a template for you. But I will tell you what I did.


Book Marks



1. Make long rectangles in the program you are using. I used Microsoft Publisher.

2. For the girl’s bookmark, download the Valentine Doodle Frames from Surfin through Second .  

3. Download “Rebekah’s Birthday” Font from

Kevin and Amanda

4. Download the “funky pink heart” from My Cute Graphics 

I changed the color of the heart to gray.


For the Boys:

1. Make the long rectangle.

2. Download the “Frostbitten Candy Canes” pack for free from Collaboration Cuties

This is the background to the boys’ bookmark.

2. Download “KBZippadeedoodah” font for free from Khrys Bosland here.

3. Download the monsters for free from Creative Clips here.


And that’s it!! All of the clipart/designs are free!

I think my students will like these and may help them get a little more excited about school. Plus when parents see that I am taking the time to makes these for their child, it will just ease their minds even more about having their child in my class.  I think it is harder than ever to be in the field of education. Having parent support and students who are excited to be in your class make it a world easier.  I wish you much success in your Open House and your school year!


First Grade Fun Here We Come!

1st Grade Logo

I am SOOOOO excited!!!! After taking a year off from teaching, I am going back to the classroom!!! I was thankful to have the opportunity to take time off when I needed to, but I am ready to get back to the work I love so much. After just a few months of taking off I knew it was going to be a loooong year; I was already missing the classroom, the students, the camaraderie with other teachers. So when I was offered a position as a first grade teacher, I jumped for joy!! In fact, my new administrator was amused by my excitement. During the summer everyone else is muttering, “Teacher planning… ugh”. I am exclaiming, “Teacher planning… YES!!!”. I even went to the school the day after I signed my contract and began setting up my classroom and perusing the curriculum. Pre-planning officially starts next week, and my classroom is almost finished. I am excited about that because I can actually spend my pre-planning time planning lessons instead of rearranging desks.

I must admit that I am a, ok A LOT nervous about the school year. I am working for a new school (I have known the administrator for ten years, so that is a bonus), I am teaching first grade for the first time, and I took a year off from teaching so I hope I am not rusty. I taught pre-K for eight years, and I loved it. However, I have a (possibly unhealthy) passion for reading research and instruction. For years I have studied Orton Gillingham’s methods of instruction as well as other explicit, systematic phonics programs. So while I am a little nervous about teaching at a new grade level for the first time, I am bubbling with excitement to finally use all of the reading strategies I have studied.

1st Grade Teacher Checklist

To get the year started off right, I focus on classroom organization. This form is one I created a few years ago, and it helps me to be mindful of all of the administrative “stuff” that teachers have to deal with every day. It is available for free on my TPT. There is also an editable version. I would love for you to give feedback as to whether anything might be missing from the list. Also, what are your tips or suggestions for a new, first grade teacher?? Let me know! Thanks! Oh, and Happy Pre-Planning!!!!