Back-to-School Night, Open House, Parent Meet and Greet, Meet the Teacher Night, whatever it’s called at your school, it’s an opportunity to connect with families.
Yes, it’s a nerve-racking event. We want to make a good impression. That’s why many teachers start building parent connections before school even starts. If possible, presenting with your grade-level colleagues takes some of the pressure off. Working as a team lessens the preparation and presentation time. After the team presentation, parents can visit individual classrooms, which helps parents who have more than one classroom to visit.
When talking with parents, follow the first day “must-do’s” by sharing a bit of your personality, building parent enthusiasm with highlights of the year ahead, and incorporating the following tips from experienced teachers:
- “I use true/false questions to take parents through policy and curriculum issues and my expectations for home support. Some of the questions are designed to make them laugh and to keep the mood light, but focused. Students devise true/false questions about their favorite subjects, books, etc.”
- “Review only the essentials. It’s not a time for individual conferences. If a parent wants to discuss something in detail, arrange a conference time. Provide parent volunteer and contact forms that include the parent’s name, the child’s name, and a contact number.”
- “Keep it low key and informal. I display some of what we've been doing – math investigations and problems, current events articles, books, etc. and go from there. I don't do a formal presentation.”
- “Practice what you’re going to say beforehand. Review your classroom’s policies and procedures. Don't tell them you may or may not do something.”
- “Be a little flexible. Parents will respect authoritarians to an extent (especially if they’re super-competent), but they like to know the teacher isn't completely rigid.”
- “Bring food.”
- “Make a FAQ handout for parents to take home that includes the daily schedule, homework expectations, class rules, how they can reach you, and your grading policies.”
- “Be sure to tell parents you work very hard to make sure each day counts.”
- “I send the link to my presentation after I give it. That way anyone can review again, or watch it for the first time if they weren't able to attend.”
- “Send parents an open house invitation that informs them about what will occur during the open house. The open house will answer questions such as…. ‘How much time should be devoted to homework?’ ‘How can I support my child at home?’”
- “Display students’ work around the room and at their desks, and don’t talk too long.”