This open house/ meet the teacher night post was originally published August 25, 2012.
If you’re new here, you may not know that I’m running a series of new teacher tips called I Just Got a Teaching Job… Now What?!
I don’t know about you, but for me, meeting the kids is nowhere near as nerve-wracking as meeting the parents.
If your school has Open House, Back to School Night, Meet the Teacher Night, or anything of the sort, it’s probably one of your biggest worries as a new teacher.
For me, I student taught in Spring- so I hadn’t been part of any of this beginning of the year stuff, and I felt downright clueless. Since my parents didn’t officially come in before the first day, I made a brochure to leave on my door during registration with very basic information to know before school even started. Not every parent picked one up, but I had two or three parents mention it later, so I think it was a good move!
Yes, the Scotch tape is not the best look, but it was falling apart without it!
This is one of those areas where talking to your fellow co-workers is so very important. You need to know:
- Is there an open house?
- Is open house before school starts, or after?
- Is there a set day/ time for the whole school or grade level, or do I choose when to have it for my class?
- Are students invited? What about siblings?
- What things do you hand out and talk about? Can I have copies? (Remember- digital is best for easy tweaking and not having to reinvent the wheel!)
- What sort of things do you set out for parents? Do you have them fill anything out?
At my old school, it happened before school, for the whole school on the same night, with a specific schedule. At my new school, we have a “walkabout” on the first day where parents can visit their child’s classroom before leaving, and most teachers also have their own parent meeting or open house in the next couple of weeks.
The time of your open house makes a big difference on what to do. It’s also a good idea to find out or decide if there’s a specific time frame for all of the parents to listen to you present, or if families will trickle in and out over a longer time frame.
If your open house occurs before school starts, think about what parents need to know.
You need to tell them:
- what their child needs for the first day
- how to best prepare their child for a new school year
- how to communicate with you, and how you will communicate with them
- that you are competent and confident
- where your room is
- where their desk is
- something about their teacher
- something that will get them excited about the year!
The Target pocket chart had directions, and then I put out a parent sheet and packet. The sheet I wanted them to return was BRIGHT pink, to hopefully make it stand out.
Grab your freebie copies of the parent information sheet and generic parent packet here.
When parents are trickling in, you want them to have something to do. I like to have things the kids are excited about, because then the kids drag their parents straight to their desks.
I had my kids give their parents a “quiz.” That day at school, kids filled out their favorites, and a note to their parent.
When parents got there, the right answers were hidden, and the kids got to give their parents a quiz and grade it. (The novelty of this is so amusing to 3rd graders.)
I got the quiz from Rachel at Minds in Bloom. You can pick up her freebie here.
After a quick summary of the packet from me, I gave parents time to check out a couple of stations where things were set out for them. I like to use some kind of tripod sign to make it clear where things are, and don’t forget to leave out some pens and pencils. Flower pens are great for making sure they don’t disappear! (You can see how I made them here.)
You can also get a copy of my parent volunteer form here (free).
The kids also got to share some of the work they’d done- a mini-book, Graphing Myself (grab as a freebie from The Tattooed Teacher!), and an All About Me writing project.
This was our first writing project. I model brainstorming important things about myself, such as things I like, things I’m good at, things about my family, places I’ve been, what I look like, how old I am, and if I’m a boy or girl.
Kids can use more than one page if they need to, and I staple them together along the top.
Then, we glue it onto a big piece of construction paper folded in half. When parents come, they read the All About Me’s and see if they can guess who the page belongs to. If they think they know, they lift up the flap, and…
see if they are right! We discuss ahead of time that their head should almost fill the page, and that they don’t look like a smiley face. We have noses, eyebrows, and eyes that don’t look like just dots. Unless long hair is covering them we have ears, too! We really focus on filling the page and adding lots of detail, and they turn out great.
The kids love seeing if they can stump their parents, and they make a really nice keepsake. I also hang onto them until the end of the year so kids can see the difference in their writing skills, their handwriting, and their drawing.
You can pick up a freebie copy of the All About Me writing sheet here.
A couple last tips:
- Make sure you have a parent conference sign-up sheet, so that parents with concerns can be pointed in the direction of a sign-up, and hopefully you won’t have to stay all night.
- Get yourself a new outfit for the night. You don’t want to do the whole try-on-10-outfits-until-you’re-satisfied thing and be late! Don’t forget a piece of jewelry or two- I’m no fashionista, but you want to look pulled together to both make a good impression and to feel confident.
- Consider making a quick slideshow of the basics you want to cover. It’ll help you focus on your presentation.
- Good luck! :)
To recap, here are your freebies:
Parent Information Sheet (updated year)
Parent Packet for Open House (editable .doc)
Parent Volunteer Form
All About Me writing page
Parent Conference Sign-Up
And links to 2 freebies from friends:
Graphing Myself from The Tattooed Teacher
Parent Night Quiz from Minds in Bloom
Whew. I had a little more to show you, but I’m going to save it for tomorrow. Please, please, please leave a comment and let me know if you downloaded anything!
(I’d be so happy if you’d consider following or pinning anything you love, too!) Have a GREAT weekend!
Now that it's a year later, I would also add that Open House/ Meet the Teacher night is a great time to introduce Remind 101 (have parents sign up RIGHT THEN) and to show them how the Scholastic Book Clubs site works to encourage ordering! Make sure to emphasize that their orders help you get more books for the classroom!