Everything to Cover for your Middle or High School Open House -- From Personal All the Way Down to Procedures
It’s that time of year, when the school doors open back up for a new session of school. New parents and students walk in with hopes and expectations of learning and fun. And for them, one of the most exciting things that we do to kick off the new year is the Parent Night / Open House. Meeting the teacher, getting familiar with a new classroom, and maybe even getting to know a new school are big steps in starting the school year.
Although this can be fun for some, it can be pretty stressful for teachers. Even after years of teaching, it’s totally normal to lay awake at night wondering what are we going to do and say, what we will wear to look just the right blend of professional and approachable, how the room is going to be set up, and how we are ultimately going to impress everyone.
Prep Your Talking Points
- Educational Philosophies - Discuss your ideals. Beforehand, consider what you think is the most important in education. For example, “every child should have the right to learn and get a quality education.” Let them in on your goals and how your ideal classroom will run. Share the specific teaching strategies you plan to use, and touch on your philosophies for discipline / classroom management as well.
- All About You - Let them get know you a little bit personally and professionally. Tell them about your educational background and schooling, as well as a few appropriate things in your personal life as well. Share some info about your family, so they can see that you are a normal, loving person who will be nurturing for their children. Remember that even if the kid is a 17 or 18 year old senior, his parents still see him as their child and want to know you will love him the way they do.
- How to Contact You - After letting them know about you, let them know the easiest and best ways to get in contact with you.
- Entering and Exiting the Classroom - Discuss how you want your students to enter and exit the classroom on a daily basis. This is the time to share how you do warm-ups / bell ringers and exit tickets. I like to specify that students must be in their SEATS when the bell rings for each period, not just inside the doorway. You can even share how entering on a testing day is different if you have students slide desks apart, turn in phones, grab calculators, etc.
- Grades - Clearly state how they will be graded for tests, classwork, group projects, and homework. Decide if you’re going to allow tests and homework to be redone for half credit.
- Absences - Make sure both parents and students (especially high school students) know the consequences of too many missed classes. Share the procedures for gathering the work that was missed. Explain how your absence partners work if you have one student collect everything in a folder for the absent kids. Discuss make-up quizzes and tests. Also, be sure to describe the procedure for turning that work in and tell how much time they have after coming back to school to catch up.
- Late Work- Just like absences, it’s important for everyone to be clear on expectations and consequences for late assignments. While there can always be exceptions due to extenuating circumstances, there needs to be a clear cut general rule. Here are the details on how I deduct points from homework.
- Procedures & Expectations - This goes hand in hand with the absences and late work, but also ties in student behavior and general guidelines for the classroom. Discuss disruptive students, tardies, how a typical day will go, etc. Here’s some info on my philosophies for discipline.
- Technology & Supplies - Let your parents and students know what technology will be used (include any helpful apps that they might want to download) during the school year. Be sure to share the login information for your classroom web page if you have one. Also, advise them and give them a list of supplies that are required for the year. (Check out great calculator management tips, such as adding batteries to the required school supply list.)
- Phone Policies - In this day and age, we all need a phone policy in our classrooms. Do you have a place to keep them at the beginning of class or do you plan to take them for the duration when they are caught using them? Be sure you are complying with schoolwide policies on this as well.
- Additional Information - Close with any additional information you’d like your families to know about the classroom, yearly expectations, classroom/school websites, etc. This is a good time to take a few questions too.
Consider the Doodle Approach
If you’re thinking about using Doodle Notes this year in your classroom to boost student focus, engagement, or retention, this is a great time to introduce them to everyone.
This set of back-to-school doodle notes is perfect for distributing at parent night to cover all of the above material.
Let the parents try it out for themselves!
They’ll be surprised how much better your procedures stick in their memories compared to the other classrooms they sit in on.
They’ll immediately “get it” and see the impact that the doodle note strategy can have!
- Activates both hemispheres of the brain
- Helps memory and focus
- Relaxes during lessons
- Assists in problem solving
- Gives students energy and creativity
- Aides in attention and concentration
- Proven to help students retain information
- Students are less likely to lose or throw away Doodle Notes, and use them as a reference and / or show them off later.
Hopefully, both your students and their parents will respond well to these as you kick off the school year.
Parent Night and Open Houses really should be a fun and exciting time for everyone. After all, it is the big kick off to the new school year. A new year full of getting to know each other, learning, fun and excitement. Do you have any tried and true tips for great Parent Nights? We’d love to hear some of your advice in the comments below!
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