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August 9, 2019

The Back-to-School Letter

You head to the mailbox and as it creaks open, you see a district envelope. Acceptance of the PD you took, you think…maybe even reimbursement?

It’s the Back to School Letter (BTSL).

The End of Break Letter.

The No More Fun Letter.

You can feel your heart sink into your stomach. It’s this very tangible, very time-sensitive letter that starts the school dreams and Sunday night worries. Your alarm hasn’t been set for 2 months, but now you are beholden to higher powers – the school, the contract-time clock, and your students.

The BTSL sets the stage for all the lists and tasks that the start of school brings. But I’ve also found that the BTSL serves a much more positive purpose beyond the nudge of starting to think about the upcoming school year. Here are some messages I’d encourage you to see as silver linings of this signal (back) to action.

We are so glad you are back.

A good BTSL can be the perfect venue to warmly welcome back a staff that is valued and cherished. The best letters I have seen have also acknowledged changes to specific staff’s lives — a baby born, a parent’s death, newly diagnosed illness – when permission is granted to do so. This is a perfect opportunity to promote community within the staff.

We want to give you a heads up.

Updates in maintenance, staff departures, construction highlights (especially if things are ahead of schedule!), new program announcements- all this information honors those with the need to have some order in their lives to perform successfully. One letter I received shared that our building and grounds crew had dug a garden in a special place on campus. Another letter announced that the classrooms were all cleaned and ready ahead of schedule- THAT was a huge bonus!

Here’s this year’s new staff- welcome and take care of them.

New teachers need the love that your staff can give them in the form of encouragement, lesson plans, commiseration, or all of the above. How great to get a list so you know who to look out for, or who to invite for coffee the week before school starts. One BTSL announced that one of my childhood friends with whom I had lost touch, was going to join my department, which was thrilling for both of us!

Thank you.

As soon as the students start trickling into the building, whether for miscellaneous needs or the first day of school, things are about to get crazy up in here. This letter is to remind you, even though wewill do our best to make sureit’s not the last time, that administration supports you, and will be a champion for you.Go forth andmake amazing impact.

May your BTSL encourage and sustain you, and may you have a wonderful start to the school year!

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