If you are in your first year of teaching or 6th, one thing that makes teachers a little leery (a little anxious) is meet the teacher night. It can be the most stressful evening, you do get excited meeting your students’ parents but you are also stressed to think what if something goes wrong.
And for some teachers it can be the most terrifying night of their career. They have to get their classroom organized on top of consecutive full days of service and information over load.
While these trainings are all very necessary for the new school year, the thought of getting the classroom reorganized after summer cleaning, and ready the students in a very short amount of time can be very daunting and to be honest, it is STRESSFUL!
Yet, despite all the odds against us…, my friend, we can make it fun, and we can definitely make it much more STRESS-FREE for us as well!
So let’s talk about how your next “meet the parent’s night” can be a total success; also since we are living in arguably a virtual age so it is only fair to have some tips on organizing the best “meet the teacher night” virtually. But more on that later. First, let’s make your next “meet the teacher night” a success. I will discussing 9 tips.
Make it simple
Making things simple sounds counter-intuitive. Yet when we have a million and one things to do on top of the million and one things we already have to do for “Meet-the-Teacher Night,” it is easy to overlook these small but important details. For example, if you have forms for parents to fill out, leave pens and pencils that are readily available at their child’s desk for them. Placing a sign at the designated area where you want parents to turn in the forms would also help avoid any confusion, and free up your time to meet other students who are arriving. Any other information such as a daily schedule and other important details should also be on the students’ desks for parents to take home afterwards.
Keep it simple
Because “Meet-the-Teacher Night” can also be exciting and very overwhelming for students and parents, we should always do our best to keep it simple for them. Warmly greet them at the door, ask parents to sign in, find their child’s table/desk and cubby, and encourage them to simply take a walk around the classroom.
Labeling different learning areas will help parents and students navigate through the classroom with ease while becoming more familiar with it. In addition, if you are teaching little ones, don’t forget to ask parents to indicate how their child will be dismissed on the first day of school and the rest of the year! Once you have this important information, you can begin making dismissal tags or lists before the first day of school!
Enlist help to Organize
Since students are likely to bring in their supplies that very night, organizing school supplies can be a very time consuming task. Enlist help from parents and students! Not only is it fun for the students, it also gives you a good idea of how much supplies you have coming into your class. Placing labels throughout the classroom with bins or baskets for parents and students to simply drop their supplies in has always been a BIG help for many teachers.
And help does not have to end with organizing school supplies! If you would like for parents to sign up to volunteer in the classroom or at your school, this is a wonderful opportunity to encourage them to do so!
No matter if it is returning leveled-books back to the library, reorganizing your classroom library or cutting out lamination, this is the perfect time to enlist help!
Make it fun
Have parents and students walk away from your classroom filled with excitement and joy for the new school year! Whether it be photo booth or a simple gift for students to walk away with, leave students with a happy memory of the evening!
Your Classroom Doesn’t Have to be Complete
Many schools hold open house just before school starts so students and parents can meet their new teacher before the first day of school. While your classroom doesn’t have to be perfect, or even completely set up and decorated, you do want families to feel comfortable and confident that their child will be spending their school day in a happy environment.
In the primary grades, make sure you have a name tag and desk or table space for each child. Put away piles and unfinished projects until after your open house. Empty spaces are better than cluttered ones, and bare bones bulletin boards are okay, too.
Connect and Communicate With Your New Families
Do your best to not only greet and spend a moment with each family, but to make a connection and begin a relationship. Help students make connections too. Ask each child to look at the class name tags to see if they know anyone in their new class.
Manage Your Time
With many families arriving at once, your time with students and parents is limited. Make the most of it by making eye contact with each child as they arrive. If you are busy with another student, give them a big smile and an “I see you and I’ll be right there” signal.
“Meet the Teacher night” is not a time to hold individual conferences with parents. Most schools hold open house for 60-90 minutes with families continually coming and going during this time. If you find a parent needs to speak with me more in depth, you can set up a time when you can call them and ask them to be sure to include information for you on a “Help Me Get to Know Your Child” sheet.
Set Up Simple Parent Stations
Ensure that all parents know what to do and where to put supplies with step-by-step procedure posters. Use signs to set up a system that runs itself so you are free to spend time with parents and students. This gets parents started while they wait to see you.
Make it Easy to Collect Student Information
My first priority during “Meet the Teacher Night” is to welcome my students and to make them feel comfortable. My second priority is to collect key information I need from parents and to provide parents with information they will need from me. I highly recommend a parent sign in sheet as the first thing parents do when they arrive.
Many schools in almost every part of the world are now closed and planning of distance learning are in action but learning is not the only thing that creates a learning environment and teachers should get prepared for activities like meet the teacher to be soon organized virtually. It is understandable that the hardest part of distance education is faced by educators who have to spend extra hours to make sure the lesson is suitable to be delivered on google classroom and that students will understand the concepts the way they are supposed to.
So let us take a look at some of the ways how you can rock your “virtual meet and greet.”
Introduce Your Virtual Classroom – 5 tips
As you put together your virtual Meet the Teacher plans, don’t forget to show your students their virtual classroom. Since students won’t be seeing their actual classroom for a while, consider using Loom or Screencastify to record your screen and make a quick video of your online classroom. If you use Google Classroom, you can even create fun headers to customize your classroom.
In your classroom tour, show parents where to access assignments, grades, feedback, and any messages you may send them.
Familiarize Parents With The Learning Platform
If you will begin the school year via distance learning, it is important to provide parents with information on how to use Zoom, Seesaw, Teams, Canvas, or any other platforms and websites you will be using. Be sure to explain the rules and routines you will use for class meetings, and completing and turning in assignments.
Digitize Your Parent Forms
During a typical “Meet the Teacher open house,” I set up parent stations around the room with the different tasks and forms I need parents to complete. For a virtual open house, you can still easily collect the same information by digitizing your forms. Once you do so, you can easily email the forms to parents or share them in the online platform you are using.
Send A Meet The Teacher Letter
Over the years, many parents have told me how excited their student was to receive a letter from me prior to “Meet the Teacher Night.” Teacher letters or a simple postcard are wonderful ways to let students know you are excited to meet them and have them in your class. Whether you mail them out ahead of time or give them to families at your open house, letters from the teacher are a great way to introduce yourself. Students love to know a bit of personal information about their teacher.
Send Forms to Parents
Whether you are using Google Classroom, or another online platform, you can share with parents all the forms and documents right on the platform you are using. Provide instructions for how to log in and find the documents you send, as well as how to access assignments for your students.
This will familiarize parents with the platform so they can help their student if needed before school starts.
Sending all your information forms to parents via your platform makes it easy for parents to fill then out, and even easier for you to track who has accessed and completed them. Collecting all the info digitally saves you a ton of time and paper, and prevents you from having to chase down missing forms.
Schedule A Meet Your Teacher Video Chat
The easiest way to meet your students virtually is to do a short video chat on Zoom with each family. Much like you would schedule parent conferences, prepare a schedule of available times and invite your parents to sign up for a chat. Keep your meetings short, to about 5 minutes, and load the times into a scheduling app.