chat center

Latest Posts Full Chatboard Submit Post

Current Issue » Table of Contents | Back Issues

Volume 3 Number 9

U.S.Coast Guard AVDET 157 welcomes the opportunity during deployment to the South Pole to communicate with classrooms across the United States. Throughout the voyage, aviation personnel will correspond with schools that are interested in Operation Deep Freeze...
Dispensing Materials in Fifteen Seconds Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong
The Power Of Hierarchies Promoting Learning by Marv Marshall
10 Tips for A+ Parent Communication Instant Ideas for Busy Teachers by Barbara Gruber and Sue Gruber
I've designed the questions - Now what? Online Classrooms by Leslie Bowman & George París Conway
Blotch on the Landscape Ask the School Psychologist by Beth Bruno
Stop-Start Times The Eclectic Teacher by Ginny Hoover
Primary Sites Grades Pre-K to 3 The Busy Educator's Monthly Five (5 Sites for Busy Educators) by Marjan Glavac
Active Classroom Support: Early in the Year 4 Blocks by Cheryl Sigmon
September Articles
September Regular Features
September Informational Items
Gazette Home Delivery:

About Barbara Gruber and Sue Gruber...
Barbara Gruber and Sue Gruber are a mother-daughter writing team who share a passion for teaching and writing. This is not an "overnight success" story--they have been writing together for eighteen years. They are currently developing new educational products to be released by publishers this spring. They have written and sold over one hundred fifty educational products to publishers which are sold worldwide.

Barbara is a former teacher who was employed by Frank Schaffer Publications from l980 to l996. She developed and presented curriculum seminars nationwide for K-6 teachers. Barbara was involved in product development and was a freelance writer exclusively for Frank Schaffer Publications. After "retiring," she wrote a series of idea books for teachers for The Mailbox. Practice and LearnRight is the publisher of a series of best-selling word wall products. Barbara and her husband live on a farm in Healdsburg, in Sonoma County, California. She has four grown children and four grandchildren. Barbara earned her M.A. at Santa Clara University in California.

Sue Gruber is a kindergarten teacher who is sharing a teaching contract this year. Working half-time gives her more time with her 18 month old son Cooper. Sue, her husband and son live in Sonoma County, as well. Sue's first experience as a writer was helping Barbara write a science book for Frank Schaffer Publications. Sue has a degree in geology and a strong science background. They continued as a writing team and created dozens of products for Frank Schaffer Publications. Sue and Barbara wrote eight new teacher idea books soon to be released by Practice and LearnRight. Sue taught grades three, four, five and is currently team teaching kindergarten. Sue earned her M.A. at Sonoma State University in California.

Barbara and Sue are are partners in Barbara Gruber Online Courses for Teachers. They personally write each course with today's busy teachers in mind. Teachers can do coursework completely on their own, or, if they wish, interact on line with others. They can earn one, two or three semester units from University of the Pacific. Barbara and Sue present information on a practical level. It can be put into action immediately in classrooms. Barbara and Sue provide instructional strategies and management ideas without creating more work for teachers.

The internet allows Barbara & Sue to do the work they love most—work directly with teachers. They are thrilled with the response by teachers to their courses. They have a fresh, teacher-friendly approach to affordably-priced courses. Barbara Gruber & Sue Gruber have created exactly what today's teachers are looking for! You can find out about their courses at

Gazette Articles by Barbara Gruber & Sue Gruber:

Best Sellers

The Self-Publishing Manual : How to Write, Print and Sell Your Own Book (Self Publishing Manual, 13th Ed)
by Dan Poynter

$13.96 from
More information


Complete Guide to Self Publishing: Everything You Need to Know to Write, Publish, Promote, and Sell Your Own Book (4th Edition)
by Tom Ross, Marilyn Ross

$13.99 from
More information


A Basic Guide to Writing, Selling, and Promoting Children's Books: Plus Information about Self-publishing
by Betsy B. Lee

$4.95 from
More information


Browse through the latest posts from the Upper Elementary Chatboard...

Instant Ideas for Busy Teachers...
by Barbara Gruber, M.A. & Sue Gruber, M.A.
10 Tips for A+ Parent Communication

Doesn't it seem like teaching children is just one aspect of our jobs as teachers? We are expected to do so much more! We have all tackled extra duties, mountains of paperwork and meetings that last forever! Here are some tips to make another important aspect of your job---keeping parents informed---a snap! We guarantee your job will be easier when parents are well-informed!

  1. Your Signature Color

    Make your written communications to parents easy to spot---choose a bright color of paper to use all year. Stash several reams of your signature color in your classroom closet right now. Start the year off right by using this color for your very first letter to parents this fall. Let parents know this is the color paper to keep an eye out for! At a glance, parents can quickly locate important notes from you stuffed inside their children's backpacks.

  2. Your Welcome Letter

    Invest a bit of your time and send welcome letters to the parents of your students. What a friendly, easy way for parents to get to know more about how you manage your class. Here's a checklist of important information to include in your welcome letter:

    • Introduce yourself. Write a sentence or two telling parents a bit about your background. Let them know you're looking forward to a wonderful year with their children!
    • Let parents know to be on the lookout for important notes and newsletters from you. Be sure to tell them to watch for your special color of paper!
    • Give parents the information they need to contact you. Do you want parents to write you notes, call you at school, or send you e-mails? Include phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses in your note
    • Provide general information about your daily schedule. Make sure to include the times school starts and ends.
    • Describe your homework policy. Let parents know the days of the week you typically assign homework and the amount of time students should plan to spend on homework each day. State your policy for handling late homework.
    • Do you usually send home a bundle of corrected work every Friday? Let parents know which day they can expect papers to come home in backpacks or folders.
    • List important dates for back to school meetings, upcoming field trips, projects, and parent conferences.
    • Let parents know your expectations for behavior in your classroom. You may want to include a copy of classroom rules.
    • Acknowledge that the beginning of school year can be a huge adjustment for many children. It can be tiring for kids (and teachers!) to go from the more relaxed days of summer back into the more structured groove of school.
    • Include a copy of the school calendar listing holiday breaks so parents can plan vacations without kids missing school.
  3. Back to School Night Meetings

    Make your back to school night meetings a success with these tips:

    • Last minute preparations can leave you frazzled. Early bird parents will distract you from getting organized. You'll be more relaxed if your room is 100% ready for visitors ahead of time. Lock your door and relax for a few minutes before your meeting is scheduled to begin.
    • Welcome parents to your room with a large sign on the door stating your name, room number and grade level.
    • Wear a nametag. Have nametags available for parents, too. Ask parents to write their children's names in parenthesis under their own names. Make a sign showing an example of this type of nametag. These nametags help you put together parent/child pairs when parents have different last names than their children.
    • Have a sign-in sheet for parents. Place the sign-in sheet away from the entrance of your room so you don't have a line at the door. The next day you can send home written information to parents who did not attend the meeting.
    • Display and label texts, materials and samples of the kinds of work children will do in your class.
    • Provide outlines for parents to jot notes on during the meeting. An outline helps keep you on track and information organized.
    • This is the perfect time to recruit classroom volunteers! Make "help wanted" sheets describing the variety of ways parents may volunteer.
    • Briefly discuss information about curriculum, grade level standards, homework, class rules and your behavior management plan.
    • If you teach in the primary grades, give parents a copy of the manuscript or cursive alphabet that you use in your classroom.
    • Make sure to leave time for parents to ask questions.
  4. Newsletters in a Flash

    You don't have to spend a minute of out of school time creating newsletters. Create a generic newsletter form with a heading on the top, sections for Monday through Thursday and Next Week as shown below. During the last minutes of each school day, elicit ideas from the class and write a dictated sentence or two about daily happenings. After school on Thursdays, add announcements and reproduce the newsletter. Children take it home on Fridays all year long.

    Run off the generic formats and each Monday simply fill in the date and get that week's newsletter going!

    Classroom News---Week of _____________

    Grade 2---Ms. Sunshine's Class









    Next Week/Announcements:


    Publicize the good job you're doing keeping parents informed---pop a copy of the newsletter in your administrator's mailbox each week. Place another copy in a 3 ring binder to keep at school. At Open House and Parent Conference Time have the binder available for parents to peruse.

  5. Homework Hints for Parents

    Share these tips with parents for helping children develop responsibility and for making homework time stress-free!

    • Establish a school box at home. The school box can be a plastic crate, dishpan, cardboard box or basket. The child puts all materials that need to go to school in the school box. This works like a charm for eliminating frantic searches before school for lunch money, library books, homework and/or permission slips.
    • Make a homework supply kit in a box. Include pencils, erasers, pens, crayons, colored pencils, paper, scissors, glue sticks, staplers and other necessary school supplies.
    • Allow children to have some free time before sitting down to do homework. After a long day at school, kids need to have some down time to unwind!
    • Divide homework time into two shorter sessions instead of one long session. Use a timer to signal it's time for a 10 minute stretch break between the sessions.
    • Homework is intended for children to complete independently. Encourage independence by helping your child set up a quiet place to do homework. Check in periodically during homework time to show your support but don't hover!
    • If your child needs help with homework, go over the directions and do an example together. Don't get in the habit of volunteering to help with homework. Foster independence by waiting to be asked for help.
  6. Parent Resource Articles

    Do you ever come across articles in magazines or the newspaper that you'd love to share with parents? Clip the articles and place them in a "magnetic" photo album. Jot a note in your weekly newsletter telling parents about this resource. Let parents check the binder out to borrow and read the articles at home.

    Once parents are aware of this resource, they might send some articles they come across to you to include in the album. Keep the album in your waiting area for parents to look at if they arrive early for their parent conferences.

  7. Good News Envelopes

    Many parents worry when they see notes sent to them from the teacher. Take a minute to communicate good news to parents for a change! Grab a handful of envelopes. Write each child's name on three different envelopes. Put a rubber band around each class set of envelopes. Keep one set of envelopes on your desk. Choose two other times spread throughout the school year to send home quick good news notes. Each day jot two or three quick notes to parents sharing good news about their children. Pop the notes in the ready-to-go envelopes and send them home.

  8. Let Parents Know How They Can Help

    Parents want specific suggestions so they can help their children learn. Share this list with the parents of your students!

    • Read to your child.
    • Talk to your child about things that are interesting to him or her.
    • Write notes to your child.
    • Limit your child's television time. Be selective about what he or she watches.
    • Read and discuss your child's schoolwork.
    • Give your child specific duties or chores to perform on a regular basis at home.
    • Praise your child often for specific accomplishments.
    • Set aside some special time each week with just your child.
    • Label the belongings your child takes to school.
    • Stash some books and magazines in your car for your child to read during errands and other car trips.
    • Sit down with your child and a stack of family photos. Share stories and family history with your child.
    • Establish some fun traditions for your family to enjoy together.
  9. Record keeping---Parent Communication Folders

    Keep track of communication you've had with parents during the school year. Make a set of parent communication folders by labeling file folders with the names of your students. Staple a few blank sheets of paper inside each folder. Use these folders to keep details of important conversations and notes organized. Inside each folder jot the date, name of the parent with whom you spoke, and any actions that need to be taken. Make sure notes that you receive from parents are dated before you file them. If you respond to a parent's note in writing, make a copy of your response and staple it to the parent's note. After making phone calls to parents to discuss problems, take a few minutes to record any important information that was discussed. Parent Communication Files come in handy if you ever need to document how you've involved parents after an incident at school. Keep these important folders inside the front of your desk drawer so they are at your fingertips.

  10. Quick Tips for Keeping Parents Informed

    Here are some quick and easy tips to keep parents up to speed on what's happening in your busy classroom.

    • Sometimes it's faster to make a quick phone call to a parent rather than writing a lengthy note. A guaranteed way to keep the call brief is to make it three minutes before the bell rings! Let parents know that you just have a minute to quickly share important information with them.
    • At the beginning of a big project, send home a "sign and return" note. Include information about the project, expectations for students and due dates.
    • Order a self-inking stamp that says "please sign and return". Use it when you need to make sure parents have seen important papers. You may need to use this stamp with just a few of your students.
    • Children who have a difficult time keeping up with assignments may benefit from a daily homework check off sheet that is signed by you and the parents each day. Make sure you speak to the parents and let them know how and why the check off sheet is being used.

    Parents appreciate your efforts to keep them "in the know." They will be more supportive of their children's efforts and achievements when they feel a connection to the classroom. You can make that connection with A+ parent communication strategies all through the year.

When you are looking for practical ideas for your classroom that save teachers time and work, take a look at our online courses for teachers. Teachers tell us we've helped them put the fun and joy back into teaching---that's music to our ears.

Best wishes ~
Barbara Gruber & Sue Gruber
Barbara Gruber Online Courses for K-6 Teachers

Copyright 2002: Barbara Gruber Courses for Teachers