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New Teacher Handbook

Updated on January 15, 2012

Communication is Key

This new teacher handbook is free and available to all educators. Starting a new year, regardless of whether you’re new to teaching or a veteran, can often be overwhelming. I think it tends to be this way, because so many of us try to reinvent the wheel. With this in mind, I’ve decided to share both my letter home, for the first day of school, and my class handbook, your new teacher handbook. It took me many years to develop and revise my handbook. Keep in mind that I teach a fifth grade classroom where most of my class is gifted. Consequently, this handbook may not be suited for some classes, particularly younger ones. With this in mind, I think it would work well with grades 4-6. As with so many things in teaching, you’ll have to comb through it, and use the parts that might be beneficial.

Some of the procedures, specifically the late penalty and homework completion after an absence, are either school or district procedure. Before copying what I have here, you may want to check and see what your school’s rules are, or you may want to get administrative permission for this.

The handbook and letter home ends up being two double-sided pages. My advice is to keep the handbook relatively simple. Some of my colleagues send much longer handbooks home, but I’ve found that most parents and students won’t read it if it looks too long. With that in mind, I’ve cut out a lot of procedures and rules that are extraneous. Instead, they’re posted in the class. In an effort to keep it short and simple, I’ve also sent the letter home separately. One of my colleagues, a veteran teacher, would send her letter home during the summer. By doing this, she added a personal touch, and students didn’t waste money on needless school supplies. They knew exactly what to buy before school ever started.

Regardless of what you use here, spending time on rules and procedures is never a waste of time. Communicating these expectations, both to students and parents, often alleviates problems that may arise, and it promotes a good working relationship.  

Letter Home and Complete Classroom Handbook

Dear Parents:

I’m so pleased to be your child’s teacher this year. As I’m sure you know, this is a gifted/accelerated classroom. With added opportunities to modify curricular depth and pacing, I’m confident that your child will enjoy the class and benefit from the instruction.

Our school furnishes basic materials, including all books and art supplies. Students aren’t required to purchase additional items but may benefit from having colored pencils, colored markers, a small pencil sharpener, red pens, and a thesaurus. I highly recommend the thesaurus.

Please review the attached handbook with your child. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 555-5555.


Mr. Ed Thornton

Fifth Grade Gifted/Accelerated Teacher

Room 12

Classroom Handbook


Good attendance is necessary for academic success. The curriculum within this class is accelerated. Textbooks and other reference materials may not be used for many assignments, and missed instruction may be difficult or impossible to duplicate.

A class secretary will record all assigned material in a notebook. Students may consult with the secretary to determine what they missed during an absence. If necessary, I’m always available to answer any questions.

Work, that is assigned before an absence, is always due the day a student returns to school. For each day of absence, students will be allowed one day to complete their missing work. Assignments that are not completed within the extended due date will be considered late. Late assignments will be assessed a 35 percent penalty. I’ll make reasonable exceptions, individually, for students who are unable to complete assignments due to reasons that are genuinely beyond control.


Homework is not assigned very often. Work, however, is assigned daily, and students are usually given ample time to complete the work in class. In fact, many assignments may be assigned and collected on the same day. Assignments that are not completed during school are homework. Homework is due when the morning bell rings the next day. Work must be complete, on time, and legible. Incomplete or illegible assignments may not be accepted. Assignments must be neatly written in pencil, and all assignments must be completed on white paper.

All work, unless otherwise specified, must be completed in cursive handwriting.


This is a gifted/accelerated classroom. As a result, curricular changes have been made in an effort to better meet your child’s academic abilities. As with all other classes at Hayward, instruction meets or exceeds Arizona Academic Standards.

Reading, writing, spelling, and math are integrated in virtually every subject.Subjects are often taught simultaneously. For example, it is common to assign reading material out of the science, social studies, or health text. Consequently, multiple subjects may be covered at the same time. Grades are often recorded in multiple subjects.

Spelling is assessed at all times. Spelling grades are calculated based on spelling tests, spelling assignments, and writing samples. As a result, students must proof all work. Any assignment, in any subject, may and probably will be graded for spelling too. These writing samples comprise roughly half of your child’s spelling grade. Since students are encouraged to use their dictionaries, this means that over half of your child’s spelling grade will be like an open-book test.


Extra credit is offered through Accelerated Reader. When your child finishes all twelve books for the year, he/she may continue to read for extra credit. Extra credit may be recorded in any subject.


Students may receive assignment passes for excellent behavior, consistent completion of work, or strong effort. Passes will be awarded at my discretion. When awarded a pass, students will be asked to write their full name, in ink, on each pass. When assignments are collected, students may either turn the assigned material in or turn in an assignment pass. If an assignment pass is turned in at this time, the student will be excused from that assignment.

Assignment passes may be used for any one-day assignments or the weekly spelling work. Students may not use a pass to skip projects, reports, tests, quizzes, or any assignment, other than spelling, that requires more than one day to complete. As a welcome back gift, each student will begin with 2 passes.


Assignments vary in difficulty. As a result, they’re often valued differently. The list below is only a general guideline and may not apply to all work.

Final Tests 200-300 points

Accelerated Reader Tests 100 points per book

Tests 100 points

Quizzes 20 points

Assignments 10 points

Assignments (Completion-Effort) 5 points

Projects and Papers Point values vary.


Our school rules are posted in the class. In addition, all class rules are discussed in depth. These class rules are listed below and are strictly followed.

1. Follow directions.

2. Raise your hand before speaking.

3. Work independently.

4. Always be respectful.

5. Complete all assignments


Several periods, each week, are set aside for silent reading. During this time, students read an Accelerated Reader book that is at least fourth grade and valued at four or more points. A complete book level list is available to all students. Students will be expected to complete three books from this list each quarter. For academic success, students are highly encouraged to complete their books before testing. The average book is about 150 pages, and students should plan on reading about 10-15 pages a day.

Test Dates and Regularly Scheduled Assignments

Some of our tests, quizzes, and assignments are regularly scheduled. On Thursday, we typically have a vocabulary quiz, geography and spelling are due, and we have a spelling test. Other tests are given when we finish covering the material. As a result, these test dates vary. When possible, test dates will be communicated well in advance. Extra credit opportunities may be offered for studying for tests in vocabulary, geography, math, science, history, and English.

------------------------------------------------Cut here.---------------------------------------------

If you sign this and your child returns it, by August 16th, he/she will receive a free-assignment pass.


Parent Signature


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