Lights, camera, classroom! Are you ready for your big premiere? Back to school is quickly becoming a season of its own, thanks to commercials of dancing notebooks on constant replay starting in mid-June. It’s the magical time between summer and fall that has kids anxiously making sure they have perAug 12, 2015
Lights, camera, classroom! Are you ready for your big premiere?
Back to school is quickly becoming a season of its own, thanks to commercials of dancing notebooks on constant replay starting in mid-June. It’s the magical time between summer and fall that has kids anxiously making sure they have perfectly matching supplies, while teachers agonize over perfecting lesson plans for the first week.
The culminating event of the season is, of course, Back to School Night. It’s a teacher’s own red-carpet premiere. And like the Hollywood version, there will be plenty of busy bodies, a million questions and probably even a few photo ops.
1. Movement is key on the big night. Don’t end up corned by a couple over-excited parents the whole evening! Instead, keep students and families engaged and informed while you circulate, meeting as many as you can.
2. Have a scavenger hunt checklist for students. Let them find where key items in the classroom are on their own (the pencil sharpener, the dictionaries, their lockers or cubbies). They will start feeling comfortable and independent in the room, saving you from escorting one student at a time to each place. Students that complete the scavenger hunt get a prize — a new pencil, sharpened and ready for the first day!
3. Extend the scavenger hunt school-wide. Collaborate with other teachers and staff to get students to important places, like the lunchroom and nurse’s office. This will also ease parents’ minds, and help keep a rotation going in your room to avoid the start of the night/end of the night rush with nothing in between.
4. Set up stations in the room using tri-fold boards (of science project fame). Each one features important information that parents can read and explore on their own — one for the basics, such as the supply list, classroom schedule, syllabus; another featuring some of the great projects students will complete during the year; a third giving the best contact information for you, and personal anecdotes that let everyone get to know you a little better.
5. Make snacks easy to move with: fruit on a stick, chocolate covered pretzel sticks, etc. Bottles of water are key, too, as parents navigate classrooms across Arizona’s toasty (and often outdoors) campuses.
6. For younger students, consider what you want them exploring from your classroom stash — and what you don’t. Having a couple of puzzles set out on desks will keep hands busy. An “under construction” or “coming soon” sign can point out areas of the classroom that aren’t open for the night, or find ways to move desks in the area to funnel the flow toward where you want everyone to be. (Don’t forget to sign up for our Drawing, Dictating & Writing: Books for Learning Course for preschool and first grade!)
7. And for older students, communicate your online expectations. Do you post grades online? What about assignments and their due dates? Tell parents that. Every teacher’s online presence is different, so be clear about what you expect out of parents and their kids on the Web.
8. Create an assembly line for forms along a back counter, including a parent volunteer sign up and a student/family interest survey. You’re more likely to get the important info you need right away while you still have the parents in the room, especially if you make it easy by providing clipboards and pens.
9. Make a “parking lot” for questions you don’t get a chance to. Hang a blank poster with sticky notes nearby. Parents can write their question and post it; just make sure they include contact information so you can get back to them later.
10. Make sure students and parents know how excited you are for them to be in your class by giving out a token. It could be as simple as a nametag for them to decorate at home and wear on the first day of school, or a lucky penny to keep in their pocket when they come back.
Once you navigate the influx of eager parents and students, you’ll no doubt feel like the star of your classroom — and get rave reviews.