Imagine: You’ve had a long and exhausting day at work; you fight traffic, pick up your spouse, and skip dinner so that you can make it to Back to School Night on time. Sure, you’d like to meet your son’s new teacher, but something tells you that you are in for a bad case of déjà vu. Will you 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 we want to help you add a little flare, a little moxie, a little panache to your first encounter with parents. 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.