Thursday, July 31, 2008

Advice about Orientation

Orientation happens before the first day of school, so your target is to have your room ready (at least neat and clean) by Orientation when you will first see parents and your new students. The schedule for Friday, August 15 is as follows:

8:00-9:00 Kindergarten and 2nd grade
11:00-12:00 1st and 4th
2:00-3:00 3rd and 5th


From 1st grade teacher, Haley Alvarado to 1st grade teachers: Below is a example of the Orientation info Meredy and I going to use for our class. We'll have to put the small details in later. You can easily put it into a PowerPoint format if you prefer that method. Other things you will want, maybe, are a sign up sheet for possible volunteers (in/out of the class), Fun Friday (parents sign up to bring in a snack or treat for the whole class on Fridays) sign up.

ABC’s of First Grade

A Absence: If your child is absent, please make sure to send in an official doctor’s note to be an excused absence. If your child will be leaving early for an appointment, please let us know in the planner what time he/she will be checked out.
Arrival and Dismissal: Students should arrive after 8:30 a.m. They will report to the hallway outside of the classroom each morning. School begins promptly at 9:00. Dismissal will begin at 3:15 p.m. from the car loop circle. All students should be picked up no later than 3:40. If your child is a car rider, you will need to be in the lane closest to the school. The outermost lane is reserved for Kindergarten only!

B Behavior Expectations: See the attached sheet.
Birthdays: If you wish to bring in a treat for the class for your child’s birthday, please let us know in advance. Birthday treats will be handed out during recess or on a day that you volunteered for Fun Friday.
Breakfast: A school breakfast is served every morning from 8:30 – 9:00 a.m. The cost of breakfast is $.70.

C Communication: A weekly newsletter from us goes home every Monday. Parent/teacher communication will be done through “blue home-school folders.” Please read monthly calendar for events in the classroom and resource schedule.
Conferences: Parent/teacher conferences are held before and after school at a scheduled time. Both Mrs. Mack and Mrs. Alvarado will be present for each scheduled conference. We will hold a conference with each parent in the start of the 3rd nine-week period.

D Daily Schedule: Look at the schedule posted outside of the classroom.

E Emergency information: If for any reason your emergency numbers change during the year, please inform the office and us ASAP so you can be located quickly if an emergency occurs.
Early Dismissal: Early release days are every other Wednesday. Students will be dismissed at 2:00. Due to professional development on these days, we will be unavailable for conferencing.

F Field trips: If you would like to chaperons, please remember that younger children will not be allowed to attend and that you must drive your own car. Please send permission slips back ASAP. Field trips must be paid with CASH. All chaperons must attend the volunteer orientation.

G Grading: Students in First Grade will receive grades of E, S+, S, S-, and U. They earn grades in Communications (Reading/Writing), Mathematics, and Social Growth and Development (Behavior).

H Homework: Homework will be sent home on Monday. Your child is asked to complete this work by him/herself, under your supervision, and return it on Friday. Homework is counted as a percentage of your child’s academic grade. Homework that is turned in a day late will have points taken off.

I Information folder: Please make sure you fill out all items in the folder and return them to school as quickly as possible.
Illness: If your child is sick, please keep him/her home. If your child becomes ill at school, you will be contacted and expected to pick him/her up promptly from the clinic.

J Junk: Sometimes your household “junk” can be used in the classroom. We collect toys and treats for our “treasure box.” Occasionally we will need extra household items such as toilet paper rolls, baby food jars, soda bottles, or other items for projects and experiments.

K Keeping in touch: Communication is very important. You can contact us through notes in the daily folder or leave a message on our voicemail: 992-6390 Ext. 109. We check home-school folders each morning, therefore this is the best way for us to get your message before our day begins.
Keeping up: First Grade is going to be a year of lots of new learning, projects, and fun! We highly recommend making it a priority to review our monthly calendar of events on the front of the home-school folder. Also, take time to review your child’s homework assignments and graded assessments, so that you are always aware of your child’s progress.

L Lunch: Your child may bring a lunch or buy a school lunch. Lunch is $1.30. Milk may be purchased separately for $.40. Please send any money in a baggie marked with name, lunch number, and amount. Send checks on Monday if you are planning to deposit money into your child’s account. Your child’s lunch number must be on the check (these numbers will be given to you). Our class will go to lunch each day from _____________.

M Math: The First Grade mathematics curriculum, Math Investigations, provides students with mathematical experiences that help them develop number sense and a positive attitude towards mathematics that will continue through their school career and their lives. We employ a hands-on problem solving approach.
Medicine: All medicine must be kept and administered in the main office. Children are not allowed to carry medication with them.

N Necessary School Supplies: Please make sure your child has the school supplies they need as indicated on the school supply list. Please be reminded not to label your child’s school supplies.

O Outside: Our class will have 30 minutes of playground time each day. Please make sure your child is dressed appropriately for play and weather.

P Parental Involvement: Your support of school activities makes your child feel important and sends the message that you value school. We are always happy to have your help in/out of the classroom and for special activities.
PTA: Please join our PTA! Our PTA supports many events, buys books, and provides money for miscellaneous items throughout the year. You do not need to join for each child. If you would like to sponsor a family for our class, please let me know. The cost of PTA is only $5!
Parties: There will be special events throughout the school year. The room parents usually organize these events and coordinate volunteers and donations. All are welcome to participate in the festivities.

Q Questions?

R Resources: Students will participate in resources Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from _____________. Students are fortunate enough to participate in Art, Music, Media, Science, Character Education, P.E., and Technology.
Report cards: Report cards are issued every nine weeks. These reports reflect the progress your child has made towards our First Grade academic objectives and uses a grading system that reflects the developmental nature of First Grade learning.

S Scholastic: Scholastic book orders are a great way to build your home library with quality children’s books at reduced prices. For every dollar you spend, our class receives points towards the purchase of books for our classroom library. All scholastic orders need to be made out to Scholastic in the form of a check or money order.

T Transportation: We must know how your child is getting home on the first day of school! Please make sure you fill out this important information about how they will get home each day. If your child is a bus rider, we need to know the bus number and the stop number. Please notify us in writing if your child is going home a different way than he/she normally does. This is a MUST! Do not leave a phone message; we cannot ensure that we will receive it in time!

U Uniforms: Uniforms are white or navy shirts and khaki or navy bottoms. Opt out forms are available in the Office.

V Volunteers: Volunteers are greatly appreciated both in and out of the classroom. If you are interested in volunteering, please look over the various volunteer roles that are available and sign up on the “Volunteer Sheet”.

W Wish List: There are extra items that we could use in the classroom. These are items that the class will be using throughout the year. Our wish list of desired classroom items is on the sign-in table. Thank you for your support!

X X-Etc: Fun Friday is a weekly celebration. Parents are asked to sign up to provide a small snack and drink for the class on the day they volunteered for. This is also a great time to celebrate your child’s birthday. Look for the sign up sheet.

Please label all of your child’s personal belongings with his/her first and last name. Lunch boxes, jackets, sweaters tend to be very difficult to find if lost.

Y Your role as a partner in education: Help your child become responsible. Ask questions. Look in your child’s daily planner for important papers and sign the home-school folder daily. Look over your child’s homework. Read the newsletter and the Chets Creek Connection. Read to your child and listen as they read to you.

Z ZZZZ’s: Make sure that your child gets plenty of rest. Setting and keeping a bedtime is a wonderful gift you can give to your child. It will help them to be alert and ready to learn each day.

We look forward to another great year with your participation and support!



From 1st grade teacher, Debbie Harbour: Plan well for Orientation and it will go smooth. I always wear a dress and try to look extremely put together. One of the most important things I learned was to put a basket and sticky notes at a table. Tell the parents if they have any questions when you are done to put their name, child’s name, and the question on a note and stick it in the basket. You will get back to them as soon as possible. Blame it all on time! That way if you don’t know the answer, they won’t know you don't know. Also, make sure you have sign up sheets. Anyone who needs them can e-mail me for samples. Add in a sheet about yourself. Parents like to know a bit about you. I like to have cookies for the kids to eat because it keeps them busy, out of my stuff that is all set up, and quiet!

From 1st grade teacher, Maria Mallon:

  • I suggest wearing professional attire for Orientation (it's an hour) and you can change after. You want to make a good first impression!
  • Have a script ready on all the points you want make clear. Most of it will be about the first week of school, homework expectations, time to be at school, etc. Parents will be as glazed over as you are - so don't worry about getting up in front of people. I like to have an ABC's of the 1st Grade program run off for each parent. I briefly touch on A-attendance, B-birthdays, C- communication, etc. This keeps me on track - and can be done on PowerPoint.
  • A wish list is nice to have for those "extras" - Sharpies, binders, printer cartridges, gift cards (to Walmart, Office Max, Target, Michaels - $5.00 are always nice). I put what I would like on an index card for the parent to take with him/her at Orientation. On it I write the item I would like and have them return the card with their name on it so I know who to thank when the wish list items come in.
  • On the tables I put the ABC program, any sheets from the office, a welcome letter, a gift bag for each student, and candy.
  • Remember it's not an Open House, so you don't have to get super detailed. Keep it upbeat, fast-paced, and fun. Have sticky notes for questions. If they have questions just ask them to put the sticky note on the board with their name/phone # and then call with the answer before the first day or write up a question/answer sheet to send home on the first day.
  • Make sure you tell parents where they will be dropping their child off on the first day and not to linger. School is starting.
  • You will be saved by Mrs. Phillips ending the Orientation in one hour. She'll come over the loud speaker and thank parents for coming and then ask the teachers to come to the Office for a meeting.
  • If parents want a mini-conference, remind them about the question/answer sticky notes and you'll get back to them. (Make sure you get back to them.)

From 1st grade teacher, Vicky Groves: The most important thing to do at Orientation? Find out how each child will get home on the the first day of school? I usually have this on a chart with the student names listed and before the parents leave Orientation I am sure to ask if they filled it out. If they didn't come to orientation...these are the children that I call over the weekend or I target the first day of school..."How will you be going home today?"


From 2nd grade ELA teacher (first year teacher last year) Denise Evanko:

  • For Orientation, the basics you need to go over: the planner, discipline/behavior management, grades, the daily schedule, a introduction of yourself. Give the parents a basic run down of your day and what you will be doing with their children.


  • Make sure to have a "wishing well" posted in the room of things you will need/want for your room. You can write them on post-it notes so parents can grab them as they leave. Some things I asked for were double sided tape, magnet strips, labels, sandwich bags....


  • Have a sign up sheet for parent volunteers throughout the year posted.


  • Make sure you have contact information for each child. At Orientation have a sign-in sheet that has: name, phone numbers, and how child is going home on the first day.


Tips from a 3rd grade co-teacher, Jenny Nash: Last year, Joe and I team taught, but we decided to combine our Orientation, since parents want to meet us both anyway. We had the room set with sign-in sheets at tables around the room (divided alphabetically and labeled for easy navigation). On the respective tables, we had pens and the required information forms/permission slip for first day of school WOW activity. As parents arrived, we circulated, asking parents to work on those and leave them in bins on a designated table in the room (separate bins for each homeroom -- clearly labeled). We had previously personalized a shared power point. After the room appeared to be "full", we introduced ourselves and co-presented the slide show. Items mentioned included our backgrounds/experience, teaching arrangement, daily schedule, administration, how to pay lunch money (and cost of meals), dismissal times, resources, communication plans (including my class blog address), etc. We had our first edition of our classroom newsletter available for them to take home (included classroom policies, rules, behavior plan, contact info for us along with preferred method of contact -- email, rewards plans, etc.). After the formal presentation we had a sort of "cocktail hour" and mingled to meet students and parents. No, we did not have refreshments. I am a big believer in mingling. I think that is what parents come to these events looking for -- a chance to speak with the teacher privately for a moment and get a smile, introduce their child, etc. I try to soak up names as much as possible. This year, I think it would be fun to get a picture with children. It would be helpful for learning names/faces/stories, but also just neat to have at the end of the year.




Advice from 4th grade teacher, Christy Constande:

  • Orientation is a perfect time to make a first impression. I used to try and present too much information at Orientation. As I have matured, I have simplified things. There is usually a powerpoint that is created and is shared that you can use to guide your orientation if you want. This year's will probably be outstanding!

  • Something we started a few years back was a "family photo op." We find a place in our room, something that will provide a good back drop, and we have a dry erase board and we write for example, "Michael and family." We then develop the pictures, study them over the weekend, and then post them in the room. The children love seeing the pictures, and during the year if we have a parent conference, and can't remember what the parent looks like, we have a cheat sheet!!

  • We have something on each child's seat for them to do related to our theme while we are taking pictures. We also instruct the parents to fill out the one form that states how their child is getting home the first day. This MUST be collected before the family leaves so you know how each child is getting home. You can put baskets in the middle of the tables, or collect them by the door.

  • After the pictures are taken, we introduce ourselves, utilize the powerpoint, and tell every parent the truth - that we love what we do each and every day, and that we are going to love and take care of their child academically, socially, and emotionally. That is really what they want to hear the first time they meet you.

  • We always give the students something- a goody bag with candy, fruit chews, pencils etc. If you can find something related to the theme, that would be great.

  • Also at Orientation you are invited to post a "Wish List." You can change the name of it to relate to the theme. It is an opportunity to use cut outs or stickies and write the name of supplies that you could use in the classroom. Shoot for the stars. You can ask for gift cards, the specific names of paperback books that you would like, film, items you need for an upcoming craft, decorative computer paper, wrapped candy, etc.

Advise from 5th grade ELA teacher, Terri Lehane:

  • Ask around to see what your grade level teachers are doing. Everyone is willing to share. Work smarter not harder. Ask them to e-mail their agenda or power point. Use those ideas and tweak for your class.

  • Before Orientation, get to know your class. Doing a "welcome board" helps you to know the kids. Try to match faces to names. It always impresses parents when you know their child's name, or something about them at Orientation.

  • Last, but not least, ask for help if you feel overwhelmed. We have all been there, and everyone is willing to help.

3 comments:

Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Meli Launey said...

I am very excited about orientation. I have never done this before and it helped to get some pointers. I feel more relaxed knowing that the real "meat and potatoes" doesn't come until Open House. I will be more relaxed on the first day knowing that I have already met the parents and given the kids an idea of what I'm all about!

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