I know it is hard to believe, but back to school time is right around the corner. If you are lucky, your room will be crammed full of parents who are all eager to meet the teacher and tell you all about their child. It can be overwhelming to see the room of parents full of hope and excitement…and perhaps a little fear…all sitting in front of you waiting to hear all about your plan for their children this year. As you begin your preparations (or perhaps worrying) for this important moment, here are a few important things that will have parents leaving your Meet the Teacher Night raving about the upcoming year!
Share the Important Information
A room full of parents can be intimidating, but remember that having strong attendance means your students have parents who are in a position to be actively engaged in their children’s education whether it be through helping with homework, or helping you with classroom projects. You may also discover your classroom has a few helicopter parents along the way. To keep these parents flying high in the sky rather than right over your head, try to give them the information they want to know right away in your presentation rather than at the end. Don’t forget those parents who are unable to attend your parent night because of work or other commitments, many of them are working hard to support their child, too! Their inability to attend Meet the Teacher doesn’t mean they don’t want (and need) access to the same information. Set up a website or create handouts that will let them see your presentation so they can stay in the loop. Todays Meet is a great (free) way to collect questions in advance and to be sure you are touching on the topics that are important to all parents.
Remember, it is called Meet the Teacher
Chances are, you have already sent home a daily schedule and an overview of what your students will be learning throughout the year. The standards for each grade are also posted on the school website. Take a few minutes to cover logistics, and let parents know where they can find information on curriculum and then give them what they really want. Parents want to know YOU. You will be spending more waking hours with their children than they will on most days. Parents want to feel comfortable sending their children to school, and knowing they will be under the supervision of a caring adult who loves their child. Share a little about yourself, your family,your hobbies, and your summer vacation. Let parents know about your journey that led you to be standing in front of them. Why did you become a teacher? What do you love most about teaching? Share your passion.
Connect Them to Their Child’s Experience & Rope Them in as Allies
Give parents insight into what a day in your classroom feels like. Explain your behavior management system, and emphasize the positive parts. Let parents know that you intend to handle things in the classroom, yet you will notify them if you feel their child needs support. Tell them how you handle common misunderstandings, and how you strive to ward off bullying by being proactive. Tell the parents how much you love your students, and you want them to be successful as much as their parents do. Give examples of ways you encourage students to be their best selves and how you let them know you love them. Share stories of years past and how you have handled different situations.
Many parents are concerned their child’s specific needs will be overlooked in a large class. Reassure parents that you have systems set in place to make sure every child gets what he/she needs whether it be remedial instruction or extension activities for gifted students. Let parents know that you see their children as individuals and you will look after them to make sure their school experience is positive. Open the lines of communication so parents feel they can approach you with questions, concerns, or a peek into their child’s life at school.
When parents leave your classroom feeling that their child’s social and emotional needs are being met along with getting a strong education, they are more likely to be your allies should challenging situations arise. With a little preparation, a successful Meet the Teacher event can be the precursor for a year full of amazing home-school collaboration. To sweeten the deal, I love to leave a little treat on each desk for the parents to enjoy during my presentation. There are a million great ideas out there, but here is the one I use in my room.
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Wishing you a stress-free back to school season!