At the start of a new school year, it’s common for teachers to send home a packet of information for parents.
This packet typically consists of school policies and procedures, daily schedules, papers to be signed, and hopefully a classroom management plan.
This is all fine and good.
But by throwing all this information together in a single packet, you’re missing an opportunity to get classroom management started with a bang.
The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to send a pleasant behavioral shock wave through your new class of students and their parents.
After all, they’re ripe for a change.
The students who have had behavior problems in the past are either hopeful to turn over a new leaf or chomping at the bit to wrest control of the class from you as quickly as they can.
Either way, the strategy I’m going to share with you sets the tone for the upcoming school year and is an important first step to creating the class you really want.
The Classroom Management Packet
Instead of sending home one large packet to parents, send two smaller ones. Send the one with general information, papers to sign, and various schedules on the first day or two of school. The second packet, which will be classroom management related, send home later in the week or the beginning of the next one.
A classroom management packet has two purposes:
1. To establish your behavior expectations, putting both parents and students on notice that you will hold all students accountable for behavior that interferes with learning.
2. To get parents and students to sign-off on your classroom management plan and acknowledge their understanding of the steps taken if a student misbehaves. This eliminates future complaints about your handling of misbehavior.
Here’s what you should include in your packet:
The first page of your packet should be a letter introducing yourself and welcoming families to your classroom. Be friendly and conversational. Briefly share something about yourself and how excited you are about the new school year.
Tell parents what’s in the packet, why you’re sending it home, and what they need to do with it (more on this below).
Your classroom management plan
Some teachers recommend creating a classroom management plan with student input. The reasoning being that if students are involved in making the rules, they’ll have ownership and be more likely to behave. Hogwash.
You’re the authority in the classroom. You set the tone. You make the rules. Therefore your classroom management plan should be prepared and included in this packet.
Your policy on bullying
Bullying is serious and therefore should be separate from your classroom management plan. To learn how to create a anti-bullying policy for your classroom, read the article Bullying In The Classroom: The Ultimate Guide To Stopping It.
Your homework and restroom policies
Keep these simple and straightforward, and put both on the same page. Have your homework policy stated on the top half of the page and your restroom policy on the bottom half.
Note: Creating a painless homework policy will the topic of be a future article.
A copy of a letter home
If you use a letter home as your third consequence—which I recommend—a copy of it should be included. That way, if parents receive such a letter during the school year, they’ll know what it means and why you’re sending it.
And that’s it.
A classroom management packet is quite simple. The key details, however, are what make it impactful.
Teach your classroom management plan.
Much of your first week of school should be dedicated to teaching your classroom management plan. Your students need to know it backwards and forwards before a copy of it goes home to parents.
Teach your homework and restroom policies.
Send the packet home by itself.
On a day when nothing else is going home to parents, preferably during the second week of school, send your classroom management packet home with each student.
Assign as homework.
As the only homework assigned for that evening, ask your students to read through and discuss the packet with their parents.
Have it signed.
At the bottom of your introductory letter, have a place for both students and parents to sign, acknowledging their understanding of your classroom management plan and homework and restroom policies. It should read something like, “We have read, understood, and discussed Room 12’s classroom management packet.”
Include instructions for parents to cut along a dotted line, creating a return slip. Allow a full week before having the slips due back to you. Although they’ll probably never see the light of day, keep these signed slips safely tucked in a nearby folder. Just in case.
Present at back-to-school night.
The classroom management packet should be the basis of your presentation during back-to-school night. Yes, you can mention all the wonderful activities you’re planning and the academic goals you have for your students—and you should—but your teaching success hinges on your ability to manage your classroom.
Thus, it should be your number one priority.
Set The Tone Early
It’s much more difficult to manage a classroom that’s already out of control–like putting toothpaste back in the tube. It’s best to start the year off on the right foot by establishing your behavior expectations early.
The classroom management-only packet is a great way to do this. It gets students and parents on board and on record within the first few days of school.
And sets the table for a great year.
If you haven’t done so already, please join us. It’s free! Click here and begin receiving classroom management articles like this one in your email box every week.