Last time I was teaching Algebra, as well as for my Computer Science classes this past year, I sent an email to the students that were in my classes (and their parents) before the school year even started. I'm going to do that again with Algebra this coming year. (First day of school is August 18th, I'll probably send the email around July 31st.)
The email is an introduction to me and to the class, as well as asks for some information from them. While they can wait until the school year starts to provide me the information, I encourage them to do it ahead of time both to get it done when they have lots of time and so that I can read through the information before school starts. The email links them to the course expectations page on the class website, which will then have a link to a google form for them to "sign off" that they've read it. This allows them to get an idea of my philosophy and how the class is going to work.
I also have them read my About Me, and then write their own and submit it via a Google Form. This gives them a chance to learn a bit about me personally, and for me to learn at list a bit about them personally. I offer them an opportunity (optional) to join our class Remind group (parents can join, too). And then I suggest they go through some setup on their devices (although I will help them with this if they need it once school starts).
I then ask the parents to give me contact info via a Google Form as well as give them a chance to tell me anything they'd like me to know about their student. And then I give both parents and students a recommended, but completely optional, Mindset assignment. My school did a staff read, and then a community read, of Mindset a year ago, but even before that I thought this was a great way - particularly for incoming freshmen - to begin the year. There's no requirement, but I hope most of them at least try session 1 and that some of them go through all the sessions. We'll see.
This accomplishes (hopefully) several things. It allows them to start getting a handle on how my class is going to be, as well as allows me to start getting to know them. It also allows me not to use the first day of class going over rules and procedures, which they get more than enough of. I assure them that, if they don't want to start before school starts, this will be their first assignment and it will be due at the end of the first full week.
Feedback is appreciated.