By this point, most of you out there have already written many letters to teachers, guidance counselors, principals, you name it. It comes with the parenting job, and goes doubly for parents with wonderful – but sometimes challenged – kids like ours.
I used to write wall-of-text letters, thinking every line would be read. Wrong!
Time is limited. Administrators, guidance counselors and teachers have dozens – if not hundreds – of letters to get through. They’re only human. What would you do if you had to get through a lot of letters?
So – probably the best writing tip I’ve gotten from a seminar – we have to make our letters readable. Take the bullet point. Teachers adore them. Since learning this, I’ve come to love them, as well.
Is it easier – remember, we’re administrators now, and eager to get through the pile – to read three or four paragraphs listing someone’s strengths and challenges, or to catch at a glance a short list of bullet points? For example:
Some of (Name)’s areas for concern:
- Handwriting and fine motor skills
- Organizational skills – IEP in place
- Social skills – IEP in place
- Easily frustrated and upset
- Working in groups
- Needs a routine and structure
- Difficulty with transitions
Some of (Name)’s strengths:
- Academics, particularly science and math
- (Name) loves to learn
- Great with facts and details
- Works well with lists and visual aids
It’s really, really hard to condense a human being to bullet points. And it’s unfair.
But it’s worse to have the letters sitting around, unread. To have our children’s needs ignored or unattended to, for lack of ‘readability.’
In a perfect teaching world, everyone would ‘get’ our kids, understand their strong points and empathize with their challenges. As it is, all we can do is fight for them, to be advocates for them and their needs, and to work as best we can within the system that exists.
Lots of good administrators and guidance counselors are waiting out there for our letters. They want to successfully match teachers to students, ensuring a good year for everyone.
Let’s help them to the best of our ability.
Note: This sample list includes only a few options. Each person has their own strengths and challenges, which may differ from those included. Good luck making yours!