Principals: How To Craft An Effective
Back-To-School Letter For Parents
So, what should you say and how should you say it?
Your back-to-school letter is a wonderful opportunity to make a great first impression, start off on the right foot and make sure that teachers, parents and the administration are all on the same page. It’s also a rare chance to get your vision and mission for your school down on paper and on the record. Here are a few quick tips:
Think big picture. This is not the time to write about the new lunch schedule or other small changes. It’s also not the appropriate time to bring up petty issues left over from last year. Instead, your letter should truly contain your biggest and best dreams for your school: what you want students to learn while they are there and what kind of people you want them to become.
Set short and long term goals. Clearly outline what you would like to accomplish. Include a good mix of specific yearlong goals and larger goals. You should also have a concrete plan for accomplishing those goals. Write to inspire and motivate.
Review the past year. While the focus of your letter should be looking ahead to the future, you can’t effectively talk about where you are going without talking about where you have been. Including a paragraph where you celebrate past successes and reflect on what could have gone differently adds context and also reminds parents of past challenges.
Let parents know how they can get involved. It is vital that parents understand that they play an important role in the success of their children and of the school. Make sure they know how to stay aware of school issues, volunteer, and help their child at home. Inviting parents to join your mission is a great way to conclude your letter.
Get a little personal. Principals can be intimidating people, even to parents. Share a little about your summer or about your hopes for the next year. Tell a story about one of your memorable first days or school or an anecdote from your first year as a principal.
Send it multiple ways. It’s not just what you say in your welcome back letter, it’s how you say it. Realize that today’s parents may not necessarily receive and read a paper letter. In addition to sending out a hard copy of your note, consider emailing it and also posting it on a school or personal blog. The more ways you send it, the more people will re ad it – and the more likely everyone will know and understand the school’s goals for the coming year.
One final note: get several people to read and edit your letter before you publish it! A single typo or grammar mistake in a welcome back letter about the importance of education can be a terrible way to introduce yourself to a new set of parents. It’s a given that your letter should be clear and well written. Having a few trusted proofreaders and editors can guarantee that.
Written by Elliott Shostak