As we near the start of a new school year, it’s time for parents to shop for back to school supplies, rearrange schedules to accommodate after school activities and most importantly, prepare their children for the transition back to a formal routine. To aid in this transition, parents dutifully attend back to school night to meet teachers and learn about the year’s schedule and objectives.
Parents have likely had a long and exhausting day at work, fought traffic, picked up their spouse, and skipped dinner so they can make it to Back to School Night on time. Sure, they’d like to meet their son’s new teacher, but something tells them that they may be in for a bad case of déjà vu.
Parents are likely wondering if you will review the glorious intricacies of state standards, review the syllabus? Groan. Snooze. Gack. Indeed, many of these activities are a necessary part of Back to School Night, but you can add a little flare, a little moxie, a little panache to your first encounter with parents in 6 simple steps.
Thanks to Stella Erbes’s book, What Teachers Should Know but Textbooks Don’t Show, we’ve got six ways to help you take the groan out of back to school night.
6 ways to take the groan out of Back to School Night
- Food always makes everything a little bit better. Provide a small basket of mints or snacks for parents as they walk into your classroom. It’s a simple gesture that shows hospitality.
- Play music as parents enter and leave the classroom. This will help alleviate moments of awkward silence and create an inviting atmosphere.
- Provide several sign-in sheets—and rotate them throughout the room—so that parents don’t bottleneck at the door.
- Spending time on rules and procedures is a given. But don’t forget to include the students in your presentation. Provide visuals of the students working or showcase some of their work. This will help remind parents that everything you’re doing is for the students.
- Do you need parents to chip in with classroom supplies? Instead of passing around another sign-up sheet, try writing different items on Post-it notes and sticking them to wall so parents can take a note home with them.
- Do something visual. Do you have pictures of your students in action? Have you been updating your classroom blog?
Show it off.
These gestures may seem small, but you’d be surprised how they’ll distinguish your presentation from so many others on Back to School Night.