Dear Future Teachers,
As a student, back-to-school nights, or Open House, can be an exciting and nerve-racking night! For teachers, the same feelings can arise as you prepare to meet your new students and their families. My school placement had Open House last Thursday, which was super exciting as it was my first Open House while working in a school. Thursday morning was spent making last minute touches to the classroom set-up, printing important documents for parents, and making sure everything is ready to go for the new school year. I wanted to share some tips and ideas for Back-To-School Nights based on my experience at my student teaching placement!
Before Open House:
Make sure your class roster has the most recent updates of students so that you know roughly how many materials to prepare for families (it doesn't hurt to have a few extra copies on hand!)
Prepare packets for families to take home with important information. Some ideas include a school calendar with important dates on it, a school supply list, instructions for using any apps/websites necessary for your classroom, etc.!
For Student Teachers, an introduction letter is a great idea to introduce yourself as you're likely a new face on the schools' campus! I've attached my sample intro letter below (I used a template from Canva, which is a neat website for making flyers!)
For Student Teachers, if there are any documents that you must get parents to sign for your teaching program, it's a great idea to distribute those at Open House. For example, I am required to record a video of my teaching in order to complete my edTPA. One very important document that I need to distribute to parents is the Video Release Form so that parents can decide if they want to give permission for their child to be in the video.
Pick out a few snacks and drinks to lay out on tables for parents and students to have while they fill out any important documents you have on Open House Night! (Make sure to have extra snacks on hand in case one of your students has siblings that come along that night!)
Check out my Meet The Teacher introduction letter:
During Open House:
Greet families at the door with a sign-in sheet! Something my teacher did that I admire is that she greeted every single member of the family that attended Open House... even the siblings of our students! This practice helps to begin the parent-teacher relationships that you should strive to foster throughout the school year.
Have families fill out important information before they leave! This can include emergency contacts, regular contact information, allergies, and more. Parents could ask questions as needed and this way you can ensure that all necessary documents are returned to you promptly. (For student teachers, this is also a great time to pass out your Video Release form for the edTPA!)
Play some music! Make the classroom feel welcoming by playing some school-appropriate tunes to greet your families.
Walk around and talk with families. Some families will have a lot of questions while other families may just want to get to know who will be teaching their student for the entire school year! This is a great time to rotate, meet families, and open yourself up to any questions they may hold.
After Open House:
Make a note of any students/families that weren't able to make it to your Open House. During the first couple weeks of class you can make an effort to reach out and connect with those families to fill out any necessary documents they might have missed.
Organize important information about your students so that information (such as allergies and emergency contacts) are easy to find in case they are needed throughout the year.
Make any final preparations to your classroom before students arrive for the first day of class!
Open House was really fun as a student teacher! I enjoyed meeting my students and families, and gaining tips and tricks from my mentor teacher. If you are experiencing your first Open House, I wish you the best of luck! If you have any questions or would like to discuss Open House further, please contact me via my Contact form on the Home Page or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.