New Teacher Advice and Parent Communication Letter!

Categories: Resources

So I saw this linky party hosted by Tales of a Fifth Grade TeacherΒ and I though this was a perfect follow up to my week of posts for Setting Up a Stellar Autism Classroom. As I am gearing up for the new school year I can’t help but think back to how nervous I was when I started my 1st year and all of little things I did (and didn’t do!) that year that were helpful!

General advice for a first year teacher

  1. Get organized right away. Start keeping a notebook with you or take notes on your phone for everything you think of that you need to do. I’m one of those people that thinks of great idea while I’m grocery shopping or at the gym but I’ll definitely forget it if I don’t write it down. Make a lot of to do lists and DO THEM. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed – stay on top of the little things.
  2. Get in good with the custodians, engineers, and office clerk! Bring them coffee, muffins, doughnuts – whatever. Their help can be the most valuable. When you need help because one of your students threw up or something is wrong with your paycheck – it will be much easier to ask them!
  3. Take advice from veteran teachers you work with but be ready to put your own spin it! Do lots of research. When I started there weren’t all these awesome teacher blogs out there! Look at other peoples’ ideas, see what resources they use, and browse other curricular approaches.
  4. Find what works for you! I talked about this in my ‘Seven Steps’ posts. I hated my first year when I would hear – this is what you are ‘supposed’ to do. Sometimes it didn’t work for me and it’s okay to mix things up!
Addendum for Self- Contained Special Ed Teachers:
  1. Spend one or two weekends in September making easy tasks. You can make more difficult and individualized ones later. Just take time to make some easy tasks so your students have enough work to do. You will avoid way more behavior problems if you set up your work tasks first. You will always be able to use the easy tasks for new students or students who are lower functioning. And you won’t need to spend tons of time teaching the tasks – they can get working right away!
  2. Teach your students one or two independent work tasks systems first (you can use these easy tasks here). Let them do it twice a day. Once you have your kids going and working you can start to set up your other stations or teach them other independent routines. I have a lot of first or second year teachers that come in my class and are overwhelmed by setting up so many stations. I didn’t have this many my first year! It took time to get set up.
  3. Don’t pick too many behaviors to work on right out the gate. You may have a student who engages in eloping (running out of the classroom) a few times a week and also whines when he works on more difficult skills and scripts scenes from movies – work on the most important (dangerous, disruptive, etc.) behavior first. For the example, work on the eloping first because that is the most potentially dangerous. Don’t work on them all at once. You will drive yourself nuts and you won’t be successful with any of the interventions.
  4. Work on hallway behavior right away. I made sure my students acted liked ANGELS in the hallway. Then when I approached general ed teachers about doing inclusion activities or collaborate on units, they were much more open to it than I thought they’d be. I know, I know… they should be open inclusion no matter what but you know what? Not everyone is – so may as well make sure to have your class put their best foot forward and make your life a little easier.
  5. Set up a easy-to-commit to parent communication system. Don’t commit to writing in a notebook for each student each day if you don’t have to. It takes FOREVER. Consider making a fill-in sheet that you can circle comments about the day. Ask the parents of your students how often they want to hear from you. I ask in my Intro Letter. I understand that parents of some of our students will want more communication than other children and I get it. For our kids that are nonverbal, they can’t tell their parents how their day was, what they ate for lunch, or what they worked on. That’s hard. I text a lot of my parents and do a big monthly newsletter.
      • I’ve used this one before. My student filled it out himself and then I added comments on the bottom. Download a free copy of this Home Letter! Also – if you want me to customize this (Hi Mom instead of Grandma, different lunches, or different activities) leave a note in the comments and I’ll fix it up and email it to you!Β 

 

Link up to and give your advice to new teachers!

 

45 Comments

  1. Hello! I am a special education teacher, recently assigned to an autistic support elementary classroom…after teaching special education in an alternative education high school classroom. Teaching autistic support was my ultimate goal, but am a bit overwhelmed with getting ready for this transition. I LOVE your idea for a home letter, and was wondering if you could indeed send me one for Mom instead of Grandma. This would be of great assistance to me and most appreciated!
    Thanks Much & Enjoy the Day!
    Terry Teel

    Reply
  2. Just emailed it to you! Enjoy πŸ™‚

    Reply
  3. Hi! Could you please make me one that says Dear Mom…thanks! You are a lifesaver! Julie

    Reply
  4. Just emailed one of to you!

    Reply
  5. Hi! Could you please make one that says Hi Mom and Dad! ??

    —for the “I worked on” section: Choices would be reading, writing, math, computer, workstations
    —for the “Today we had” section: choices would be Speech, OT, P.E., Library, Art

    I hope this is not too much to ask!
    I am in my second year in a K-2 Autism Focus class and I literally go home in tears every night. I told myself that as of today there will be no more tears. I’m going to pick 2 tasks per week (making file folders, creating visuals for the room, etc) and DO THEM!! I will not get overwhelmed! One step at a time, right???

    Your site and TPT resources have been a God send for me. Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Just emailed it to you πŸ™‚ No more tears – you’ll get through it!!

    Reply
  7. Sasha:
    I LOVE your website–I have gained so much from it. I am having difficulty with getting everyone on board with using PECS across the day in my gr 1-3 building. I’ve used you as a valuable resource. Thank you!!! Could you please adapt this to say:
    *hi to mom and dad?
    *lunch items: grapes, sandwich, banana, yogurt, cheese balls, graham cracker, pretzels, or Rice Krispie bar. Could you switch the foods, too?
    *today we had: speech, OT, library, DAPE, field trip
    *I worked on: reading, writing, math, playing, Dynavox

    I know it’s a lot to ask, but if you are willing to do it I’d really appreciate it!!!

    Meg

    Reply
  8. Just emailed you!

    Reply
  9. Can you make me a sheet like the one requested by this teacher? In Today we had: Speech, OT, PT, Visual Arts, Library, Music. The worked on section would be the same as above except we say “centers” instead of “workstations” I am trying to help a teacher in my school who was assigned to the new class that was opened for students with Autism. She doesn’t have a lot of support and we are relying heavily on the resources you provide. Thank you so much for making this information available. It is a huge benefit for our students.

    Reply
  10. Just emailed it to you πŸ™‚

    Reply
  11. Hi, I just found your blog the other day and am enjoying reading your posts. I would love a copy of your parent communication letter but was hoping you could send me a copy as a boardmaker file. I want to be able to change it for each individual student. Now back to reading.

    Reply
  12. Just emailed you! I’m happy you found me πŸ™‚

    – Sasha

    Reply
  13. I am feeling a little like Lauren as I am the SLP for a severe and profound middle school class….first time ever in my 16 years! I would love a copy of the letter she asked for. If it is in TPT please let me know. I have been buying lots of your goodies ever since I found your blog last week!

    Reply
  14. Thanks Jenni!! Glad to hear you have found my products helpful! How would you like the letter addressed? Dear mom? Let me know and I will email it you! πŸ™‚

    Reply
  15. Hi Sasha!
    Thanks! Love this!
    Could I have one that says Hi mom/Hi dad/Hi mom and dad
    could you add…
    Today we had-OT and PT, art, music
    Lunch-Peanut Butter & Jelly, pasta
    I worked on–daily living, social skills (instead of office work and dynavox)

    Thanks!!!
    I would so appreciate it!!

    Reply
  16. I would love to have one that says mom and dad and one that says just mom. πŸ™‚

    I love it!

    Julia

    Reply
  17. I would love a copy! I think is a wonderful idea!
    Thank you so much!

    Reply
  18. Hi Sasha,
    I have been following your blog throughout my college career and am absolutely inspired by what you do! I will be starting my first year of teaching in a structured autism classroom next year and will be using your resources to prepare for the upcoming year. I would love if you could email me with this letter saying “dear mom/dad”.

    Thanks πŸ™‚

    Reply
  19. Just emailed you! Thank you so much for reading and good luck next year πŸ™‚

    Reply
  20. Hi Sasha,
    Could I please get a template of the parent news letter that says dear mom/dad? thanks!

    Reply
  21. Emailed yoU!

    Reply
  22. Hi I was wondering if you have the students/parents fill out anything that goes between home and school? A report of how their night/morning was or what they did over the weekend?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  23. I would love for you to change the letter to Hi Mom!

    Thanks!!

    Reply
  24. Just emailed you! πŸ™‚

    Reply
  25. Hello! Your parent home letter is such a great idea! This will be my first year teaching in a self-contained K/1 classroom and I would really like to use the home letter you posted. Can you send me one with Hi Mom/Dad? My email address is bellaboxer10@gmail.com.

    Thank you so much!

    Reply
  26. Hi! I love this daily note and would like to see if you could send me one with Hi Mom and today I had Music, Art, P.E. , OT, Speech
    Maybe instead of lunch add skills I worked on: attending, counting, matching, sorting, letters, colors, numbers, shapes, fine motor.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  27. Hi Sherian, I’d be happy to make that for your but it will take a few weeks. I am on hold from making new products as I have my BCBA exam coming up! It’ll get it you by mid-Sept at latest.

    Reply
  28. Just emailed you! SOrry for the delay!

    Reply
  29. Frandurso@gmail.com

    how bout a blank one with blank boxes and I canfill in as needed. I can put it in a page protector to be able to use a white board marker to fill in as neded

    Reply
  30. I would love the Hi Mom and Dad letter

    Reply
  31. I am in a k-2 ASD room for the first time Fter teaching kindergarten and first grade for almost 10 years. I was wondering if I could have a copy of the one you sent the teacher above and a coy of your original. It would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
  32. Hi,
    I just found you and am thrilled. School starts tomorrow and I am feeling so overwhelmed. Could you possibly make me a sheet that says “mom”, had “speech, OT, PT and Phys, Ed, special (with just a blank box I can fill in)” and Worked on “following directions, computer, games, labeling, other (another blank box)” I will be back to look at more of your site and suggestions. But I think you just saved my bacon with a kiddo!
    Thank you and keep up the good work!

    Reply
  33. Just emailed you πŸ™‚

    Reply
  34. Just emailed you!

    Reply
  35. Hi Sasha, thank you so much for providing this! I cannot wait to begin using this in my room. Could send me a copy as a boardmaker file so that I may individualize for each student? Thanks so much!

    Reply
  36. Is it too late to ask for an adjusted form to send home with students each day? I see most of the comments are dated long ago.

    Reply
  37. Is it too late to get an adjusted form to send home each day?

    Reply
  38. Could you change to Hi Mom please
    Thank you πŸ™‚

    Reply
  39. Could you please send me an introduction letter that is to mom/dad instead of grandma?
    I was just given one boy with Austism, and a second child who is almost 8 and never been in school. I would like to communicate with their parents and foster parents.
    Thank you so much!

    Reply
  40. Hello,
    This is so wonderful. I would like it to say Hi mom.

    Reply

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