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Dec 8, 2010

Posted by | 12 Comments

As I Write this Letter…

Today I want to talk about the Letters Home component of my new management plan.

In the last post I talked about how I changed my final consequence. You see, it was formerly to go the principal. Now, I have changed it to “Letter Home.”  I reserve principal visits for very serous things, such as harming someone else, bullying or putting the class or teacher in a situation where learning is downright impossible.

I figured the letter is worth a try, and something I have not done before.

This post on Smart Classroom Management talks about why a Letter Home is an Effective Communication tool. I had never thought about a letter home in the art room. I am not sure why! The format he suggests for a letter is very simple and I think the simplicity of it has won me over.  Maybe this isn’t just for classroom teachers….

Here is my version of his recommendation, which I printed up on half sheets on colored paper.

The thing l like about the letter it that it keeps the issue between me, the student and the parent. Involving the classroom teacher gets complicated, and also some classroom teachers do not want to deal with what happened in specials others are more supportive. At any rate, I value functioning independently.  Some teachers have told me if they see a student gets a letter from me they will "pull a card" of whatever they do in their classroom. I appreciate the support! 

I have yet to give one out... Coming soon I will be reflecting on my new week's management plan and how it's going - Preview: its' going great! ... More to come!

What do you think of the letter? Do any of you do something like this?
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  • http://artfulartsyamy.blogspot.com Amy Johnson

    Jessica, one again I love what you have to say. Great letter. I was so inspired by your post, I posted the forms I use for parent contact over on my blog. Keep up the awesome information!!

    http://artfulartsyamy.blogspot.com/2010/12/classroom-management.html

  • http://artclassworks.blogspot.com/ lori

    I love your letter- it is sharp and to the point! In the past when I have had the “letter home” situation…. I have the student write to their parent about what they did in the art room that was disrespectful, then the parent has to sign it and they return it to me.

  • http://wonderbrooks.wordpress.com/ wonderbrooks

    I know this comment is totally belated, but I finally had time over the summer break to lounge around reading past posts on your blog. Halfway through last school year I was dismayed at the continuing behavior issues I was having in a couple of my classes- issues that have typically been ironed out well before spring break. I came back from spring break ready to be the enforcer, and really buckled down on my classroom management system. I started having any student that had to sit time out write a letter home describing their misbehavior, which had to be signed by their classroom teacher as well as their parents. For a couple fo weeks I had quite a few students writing letters and I even had to have some parent conferences, but it was totally worth it. Classroom behavior dramatically improved. I think letters home from the art room are critical.

  • Juliagthomas

    When my students are at the “Take a Break” point due to misbehaver, I send them outside my classroom to sit quietly and write an apology letter to me. 

    I had one student rewrite the letter three times because he would not take responsibility for his actions and instead blamed me or other students. He finally got it. 

    I like your ideas however, and can see adapting mine to include your second step prior to “outside letter writing” step.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sgemeay Soha El Gemeay

    hy i was just browsing ur blog especially to find something like this,i am an art teacher ,egyptian who teach art in french for international kids in Egypt.but i have some difficult and turbulant kids and wanted ideas to manage this,i will try ur version and will keep u posted

    • http://www.theartofed.com/ Jessica Balsley

      Great! Best of luck to you.

  • Rara

    What if a student does not take that letter seriously and fails to return it? What are the steps to take after that?

    • http://www.theartofed.com/ Jessica Balsley

      I have called the parent to relay the same message, if I feel the situation warranted it. I have made a note in the student’s planner.

  • Carmela Marciante

    Hi Jess,
    I know I am reading an old post and am interested on how this form letter has worked for you so far.
    Crams

    • http://www.theartofed.com/ Jessica Balsley

      The letters that I sent were returned and the behavior improved.

      I know not all letters will be returned, but it’s worth a shot!

  • Mary

    I use a letter very similar but mine is a letter from the student to the parent with blanks they have to fill in (I made a bad choice in Art today. Instead of doing —— I did ——. Next time I will make a better choice and will choose to ——. )
    I have them sit in the time out desk and reflect on the choices they’ve made in class as they fill this out. I feel like it has helped me communicate better with parents because I can also write a quick note at the bottom as well. I ALWAYS make a copy of it so that I have a record of it (and another one ready to send home should it not come back the next day :)) Sometimes it comes back with a note from the parent and sometimes with an apology from the student.

  • Caitlin

    Thank you for your blog and these great ideas! I am a new K to 5 music teacher and I find that in a busy day of switching gears and classes, I have very little time for complicated management systems. But I am also realizing that I need to be more proactive and let parents know right away when there’s a problem… I’ll give this a go!