August 6, 2019

Making the Most of Back to School Night

Making the Most of Back to School Night

In my opinion, back to school night can be a super useful time when planned correctly. Let me take a moment to give a quick run-down of how I structured my time for it, and then I have six helpful tips and tricks for newer teachers to make sure they implement.

In my last school, the structure was a whole school assembly where information relevant to the whole student body was presented, followed by time for parents to wander from different stations to sign-up for various activities, and then a half-hour in the child's classroom for teachers to use how they wished. I typically formatted that time starting with a short presentation going over things that were applicable to all the students in my classroom. Remember, this is the time to go over the information that will be the same for every student and to communicate what you want all the parents to know about so that everyone is getting the same information from the same source (you):
  • Coming to class well prepared (this is also where I would go over snack rules if needed)
  • Grading and homework expectations and policies
  • Communication between myself and parents (i.e. expectations and the different channels of communication)
  • Classroom specific expectations and rules
At the end of my presentation, I also had the parents and students watch this video from Kid President to end on a really positive, cheerful note. Finally, I allowed for open Q and A time for about five minutes for the parents. Here are six other helpful ideas and suggestions on how to make the most of your time that evening: 
  1. Have all your sign-up sheets for particular activities during the whole school year: field trips, class parties, parents who can come in and help with specific projects, etc. Follow-up via e-mail in a couple of days outlining who signed up for what in something like a Google document or spreadsheet so that parents can have the reminder as well and get the correct dates on their calendars.
  2. On each student's desk have important information printed for parents to take such as information you went over in your slides or anything else that will be relevant in the first couple months of the school year. Additionally...
  3. I like to have the first Scholastic order sheets out for them to take that night as it is one less thing I'll have to worry about sending home that first month of school when the end of the school days can be a bit more hectic as routines are developing and settling in.
  4. Leave some time for parents and students to explore the classroom, put away school supplies (if they bring it), and meet you in person that night
  5. Have special wishlist items on a board or tabletop for more pricey items that were not on the students' supplies list that parents can sign-up for too. Typically, these were items that went with specific projects or units we did throughout the school year so that I wasn't paying for them out of my own pocket. 
  6. Leave blank notecards on students desks where parents can write a brief note of encouragement that they will leave for their child to discover and read on their first day of school when they come into the classroom.

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