How to Prepare for Meet the Teacher Night
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If you’re anything like me, I dreaded Meet the Teacher Night (especially in my first few years of teaching), because somehow it is just very different speaking to adults than it is teaching kids.
You could put me in front of an entire room of kids and I could handle it just fine – but put me at the front of the room speaking to other adults, and I suddenly became incredibly nervous.
I think it’s because you suddenly realize that all of these people are older than you are and yet you are the one in a position of authority – it made me SO uncomfortable, and I felt like a bit of an imposter because underneath it all I felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants, and I felt like I barely knew what I was doing.
So, if that’s you right now, know that you are completely normal, and that I am going to give you all of the information you need so you will know what you need to do to set yourself up for success throughout the year.
Like anything in teaching, a big part of what will make you successful on Meet the Teacher Night is how well you prepare.
Be sure to have the following 5 things clearly thought through so that you can explain them on Meet the Teacher Night:
- Parent Communication: Be sure that you have thought through how you will stay in contact with parents throughout the year.
A lot of teachers use Class Dojo, which is an awesome app that lets you keep parents updated in real time.
However, if you aren’t teaching in a context where you have a lot of access to technology, I set up something called a Home Communication Book. This was just a half-scribbler with a little note pasted inside that let parents know that this was how I would communicate with them if there was anything I needed them to know each day, and it was also a place where they could let me know about upcoming doctors appointments or anything else that was going on that I might need to know about.
I also used this book to keep parents in the loop if there were any behavior issues I wanted them to know about. So, however you choose to communicate with parents, be sure to have this set up before Meet the Teacher Night so you can let parents know about it.
- Field Trips and Special Events: Next, get as many field trip dates and special occasion dates together as you can before this event so you can ask for volunteers in person.
Ask your grade level team what special events are already planned throughout the year, and find out if there are any field trips that are already scheduled so you can give parents a heads up on Meet the Teacher Night.
For now, make a list of them in chronological order so you can begin to see the shape of the year and think about what kinds of parent support and volunteers you might need for each one.
- Assessment Portfolios: Next, think through how you might stay in contact with parents in terms of their child’s assessments throughout the year.
I created something called an Assessment Portfolio, which is an envelope in which I would send home each time I gave a test in class. Parents would need to sign and date the envelope each time it came back to school so that they could see how their child was doing at school and so that there weren’t any big surprises when report cards came around.
Think about how you might keep parents informed about various formative assessments that students are doing at school so that you can stay on the same page with parents about how their child is doing.
- Positive Communication: Also, think about how you can let parents know about all of the great things their child is doing at school and ways that you can positively communicate with parents throughout the school year so that you can let parents know about it on Meet the Teacher Night.
For example, I loved to make simple wrist bands that I copied on neon paper. Each time I was super proud of one of my students for something they did at school, I would print it on a strip of neon paper – so the wrist bands would say something like:
“Mrs. Friesen is SO proud of me because I was a great friend to Max today. Ask me all about it!”
I would then seal the wrist band with a sparkly sticker around their wrist so that when they got home, parents would ask them about it.
Then, I just kept a first-name checklist of the students who had already received a wrist band so I could make sure that I rewarded every student for something awesome they did at school.
I also made it a habit to make positive phone calls home to parents about something awesome their child did- and I loved to make those bragging phone calls in front of their child, so their child could really feel how proud I was of them.
This was such an amazing way to positively reinforce all of the great things that students were accomplishing at school, and it was also a fantastic way to reward strong character and kindness.
If you choose to adopt either of these ideas, just remember to ensure that you keep a first-name checklist of who has received a positive phone call home so that every child gets this awesome reward at least once throughout the year.
By the way – the ones who it is hardest to find the positive for will likely be the ones who this impacts the most. Find the good and the positive in every child, because what you focus on expands.
- Meet the Teacher Night Reminder/Newsletter: Finally, the last thing you will want to think through before Meet the Teacher night is what kind of information you want to send home just before the event so parents can start thinking about ways that they might want to get involved in your classroom throughout the year.
So, I created a special newsletter that I sent home the day before Meet the Teacher night that explained the various ways that they might want to volunteer – this is different than your Back to School newsletter because you will be giving more detailed information.
When we talk about how you will set up that night, I’ll give you some more ideas and examples of what you might want to include in that newsletter.
How you might want to set things up on Meet the Teacher night:
First, I always have a little welcome sign on a table when parents first come to the room, and a sign-in sheet so that I know who attended and who was not able to make it so that I can follow up with those parents after the event.
With how busy so many parents are these days, you can assume that some of your parents just won’t be able to make it, even though they want to.
It's also a really nice touch if you have your students create “Welcome to our Classroom” cards and leave them on their desk for parents to find when they come to your room.
I also usually include a schedule of tonight’s events inside the welcome cards from students.
Here’s how our evening schedule usually goes:
- First, I do the dreaded “presentation” that gives parents all of the information they will need about how my classroom will run this year.
I do this using simple PowerPoint slides so that I don’t forget anything and so that I have a clear and streamlined outline to follow.
Here are some of the things you will want to tell parents:
- A little bit about you.
- How and when to contact you.
- Positive discipline: Tell them that you may also phone them to tell them about something awesome their child has done, and to watch for the brightly colored wrist bands telling them how awesome their child is.
- Your class rules and your classroom management plan.
- What to do if they think their child is struggling in any way.
- Home Communication Books or Class Dojo.
- Your weekly schedule (and bell times) – have extra copies of this on hand.
- When regular tests will occur (and how to help your child to study).
- Student Assessment Portfolios (and how often these will be sent home).
- Homework (what will you send home, how long will it take, and what can they do to support their child).
- Grading policy
- Home Reading Program
- Breakfast program
- Lunch program
- Dismissal/bus procedure
- School supply list (have extras on hand)
- Special events/upcoming field trips.
- How you will celebrate birthdays (Is there a school policy on sweets?)
The last thing, but perhaps the most important thing that you can do on Meet the Teacher night, is to ask parents to sign up for various volunteer opportunities throughout the year.
What I would recommend is that you decide on exactly what you want parents to sign up to volunteer for throughout the year, and then make a sign-up sheet for each one.
Then, number the sign-up sheets from 1 to 8 (or however many of them you have), so that parents can sign up for different things.
One of the last stations on Meet the Teacher Night is to ask parents to visit your “Classroom Wishlist” station, where I just print items that I would love for our classroom on brightly colored sticky notes, and then parents can take whichever sticky note or notes they’d like if they want to purchase something for our classroom.
You could also easily set up a QR code to your Amazon Wishlist and include it at this station as well as in your newsletter.
In fact, on the left inside page of the card that students made for their parents, I included a “Reminders” section where parents can jot down anything they’ve signed up for so they have a handy reminder to take home with them, so you could also include your QR code there as well.
After Meet the Teacher night is over, you will hopefully have a list of parents who have already signed up to be part of your classroom community throughout the year.
My recommendation is to be sure that you keep all of these volunteer forms organized neatly inside your planning binder and then send home reminders to parents before each event so you can give them a have a heads up, especially if they’ve signed up for something that is later in the year.
So there you have it –
everything you need to do to set yourself up for success
throughout the entire year by being super organized on
Meet the Teacher night!
I really hope you tune in for next week’s episode because it’s going to be another really good one – we’re going to talk all about exactly what to focus on if you can only get into your classroom one week before school starts.
So, if you’re one of those teachers who is freaking out just a little bit about how to feel ready when you can’t even get into your room, we are going to talk about what you can do to prepare now - even if you can’t get into your classroom.
Also, if you missed my awesome freebie from last week (where we talk all about the Back to School Welcome Packet), grab your copy here:
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I hope you have a fabulous week, and remember, just because you are a beginning elementary teacher, there is no need for you to struggle like one!
Bye for now.
Dr. Lori Friesen | Beginning Teacher Mentor
Creator of the R.E.A.D.Y. for School Academy, Dr. Lori Friesen has mentored thousands of beginning teachers across the country through her workshops and courses. Host of the popular podcast, Beginning Teacher Talk, and creator of the innovative literacy program for 1st and 2nd grade, Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed, Dr. Lori is dedicated to serving educators and inspiring learners. Learn more at drlorifriesen.com and at howdogshelpkids.com.
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