What are parents looking for when they come to your (in person or virtual) back to school night?
Our administrators think parents are looking for concrete information on how you will be assessing and grading their children and what specific content you will be covering.
Sure, they want that.
But what parents really want is this.
They want to know that you like their child. That their child will be safe with you. That you want to help their child. That you are engaging and compassionate and passionate about education.
How can one person convey all of that? It’s easy. If you really do like their child and their child really will be safe with you and you really want to help their child, it will come through without you even trying. If you are engaging and compassionate and passionate about education, you will convey that easily. Those are not things you can fake.
Here are some ideas to fill the time on back to school night:
- Slide Show – Slide shows are great ways to remember what you need to say when you might be wrestling some nerves. I always include:
- My name and info like education, experience, etc
- Contact info – How do you prefer to be contacted? What are your email address and phone number?
- Curriculum – What will we be studying this year?
- Grades – How will your students be assessed? How can parents see their student’s grades? When should they expect to get grades back?
- Handout – Back to school night is overwhelming for parents also. Especially in the middle school ages, parents have to meet 4 or 5 or even more new teachers and they’re going to be on sensory overload. They’ll forget things like how to contact you or what school supplies their child needs. Help them out by providing a handout with all that info on it.
- QR codes – Instead of handouts, give parents an index card with a QR code leading to your About Me internet page where you give them the lowdown on how to contact you, what school supplies they need, and what the curriculum is.
- Sign in – Parent sign in is critical. You’ll forget which parent you met and which asked you to contact them. Have a sign in sheet and then write notes on it as soon as parents leave.
Stations for Back to School Night
Show the parents what being in your class is going to be like. Have them rotate around your classroom, completing various activities at each stations. Here are stations I use:
- School supply list – What materials will Suzie need to be successful in your class? Have copies of a printed list or have a QR code to bring them to your supply list website. I like to have sample binders, pencil cases, etc available for parents to see what I’m looking for.
- Write a note to your child. This is really an elementary activity, but middle school parents (and kids) find it fun too! Have parents write a quick note to their child (“I’m proud of you” is a standard) and leave it in an envelope on the child’s desk for them to see the next day.
- Curriculum. At this station, parents can pick up a handout on the curriculum and participate in a quick lab such as:
- Meet the teacher. After parents have completed all of the other stations, I greet them with a handshake and a smile and ask if they have any questions. If they have more than a simple question, I point them to a “Sign up for a conference or phone call” QR code where they can input their name and what kind of information they need from you. This helps move the evening along and keeps you from getting bogged down with Johnny’s parents who want to tell you all about their son’s hobbies.
Good luck. They’re going to love you.