Letters to Parents and Families: How I Start Engaging Families at the Start of the School Year

As I sat in my classroom and wrote my class syllabus this summer, it became clear that teaching involves a team of stakeholders for students. The biggest lesson learned from my first year of teaching was that I couldn’t do it alone. The students in my classroom need me, along with the support of their friends, families, and other members of our school community.

This year, one of my first assignments was a Family Welcome Letter, in which students and their families would read a letter from me and have their parents write one in response. I introduced myself and my values in the work and then asked parents to reflect on the strengths and areas of growth for their student. I asked parents to share the goals they had as a family for the 10th grade and overall, to just get a sense of what makes their student special.

Getting to know students through the eyes of their parents was a truly special way to start the school year. Parents shared how important doing well in school is for them, parents shared ways that students have grown throughout their time in high school and expressed their goals for the future. The overarching theme amongst the 150 letters was one of hope and a desire to succeed.

This assignment could not have come at a better time in the school year. Our students are facing a system that is not designed for them to succeed. As much as I hate this system and have even suffered as a student because of it, it is my responsibility to teach these students to disrupt it, while stressing the fact that we can do it together. Having the opportunities to connect with families from the offset of the year reminded me of how passionate and committed I am to doing the work. Our students can’t wait — they need the effort of their teachers and families every single day this school year. My students are counting on me to give my work my best effort within my sphere of influence: my classroom. My time in front of them has to be intentional and impactful this school year, let’s make it a great one!

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Daniela Felix

Daniela Felix

Daniela is a first generation college student who is heavily involved in education in her home district, West Contra Costa Unified. After becoming a mother at a young age, Daniela’s passion for education justice only intensified and she began to fight for an equitable education for all children, regardless of background or zip code. Daniela played a key role in organizing parents with the California Charter Schools Association and is a firm believer in school choice for all families. She is currently a Lead Organizer with Students for Education Reform, organizing college students around education justice issues in her home district. She was recently accepted into Teach for America and plans to continue impacting the lives of children in her hometown of Richmond, CA as a high school social studies teacher. Daniela is a UC Berkeley senior pursuing her B.A. in Legal Studies and Education along with her 4 year old daughter and husband. Daniela is a firm believer in that every single child is capable of meeting high expectations if given the correct support. Daniela hopes to be a provider of that support.

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