It’s no surprise that everyone wants to kick off the year by wowing parents at Meet the Teacher or Open House. You want to make sure to make a great first impression and really show your new students that you are excited about a new year. But let’s just be honest for a quick sec…this might be one of the most stressful events of the year!!! There is so much to do to get your classroom ready for the start of a new year; not to mention, the lesson plans that need to be submitted, and then, all those copies that you still need to run…the load can cause you to feel overwhelmed and uncreative. Let’s take a little of those first day responsibilities off you and on the parents! Here’s how to create a Meet the Teacher night where you can accomplish all of those things, plus build an awesome relationship with your students and parents.
Last year, I set my classroom up in stations for parents to go through to do “all the things”. I was available to greet and assist as needed, but I also had a station where I handed all the fun paperwork and gave lots of details about myself and our classroom. By the time they got to me, they already knew about me and our room from the stations. Here are the stations I used…
- Sign In – Pick up a list of stations.
- Meet the Teacher – PowerPoint and contact info on magnets for them to take home. I also had a sign up form for Class Dojo and encouraged them to sign up that night.
- Picture Station
Prior to Meet the Teacher, I labeled all the areas and baskets where supplies would need to be unpacked. I also had directions on the board for where to put pencil boxes, journals, etc. The parents were encouraged to bring their supplies that night. Then, their child would be set for the first day. Parents used this station to unpack. It was so nice not having to unpack as many book bags and supplies on the first day because the parents did it for me! Parents that didn’t bring them to Meet the Teacher, asked if they could put them away when they walked their child in.
If they didn’t have their supplies with them, they could pick up student labels I printed. I asked them to bring the supplies back labeled on the first day.
4. Transportation Nametags
When parents rotated to the transportation station, I had a few questions on a spreadsheet for them… 1. How will your child get home on the first day of school? 2. What about the second day of school? 3. How will your child get home every day for the rest of the year (unless otherwise noted)?
Then, parents used their information they provided to make transportation name tags for dismissal for the first two days of school. This way I didn’t have to do it. If their child was a bus rider, I asked them to list the driver’s name and bus number. (They could go check in the office if needed.)
5. Photo Station
On one of my back bulletin boards, I had a spot for a fun family or child photo op. I also had a Polaroid camera that I used to take a picture of the student and their family that came with them. I used this picture on a display in my hallway. The kids loved hanging their pictures up on the display, and parents loved that I sent them home after we had them up for a while. I hope that it showed them that they were just as important to me as their child.
6. Reading Book Baskets/Reading Interest Inventory
Something new that I am going to add this year is a reading interest inventory station. Each year, we are asked to complete this with our students so we match them with fun and engaging books of their choice. I am going to add this to a station this year. I will also remind the child of their independent reading level from the previous year. Then, they will shop for books with their parent/guardian so that on the first day of school they have books in their book baskets. We won’t have to do this during class, and we can begin day one with independent reading during readers workshop.
7. Small Treat
Meeting a new teacher can be very scary for students. Especially younger children who aren’t adjusted to school. To help get them excited about the year, I have a small treat for them at Meet the Teacher. Last year, I bought cookies for the students…only to be informed 30 minutes before Meet the Teacher I was getting a new student who happened to have a food allergy. I gave them out anyway and offered her with a pack of Skittles. This year, I will plan a treat after I know the medical info on my students, but it can be as simple as a sucker or bag of popcorn. Just be sure to have something small.
I am a massive introvert who really doesn’t like socializing with adults. I can teach kids all day, but I really hate entertaining a group of adults in a room. I had to remind myself…keep smiling and don’t look like you are in pain. #introvertsgetit Yes, it is going to be a crazy and stressful night. Go ahead and make plans for your husband or significant other to take you out to eat or get “pick up” for supper because you are going to want to stuff your face afterward. Just keeping it real! But smile! Many kids will want a picture with you. My favorite end of the year gift was a framed picture of me and a student at Meet the Teacher. He wrote on the card that he knew then I was going to be the best teacher ever…tears…then and now typing this…
Friends, Meet the Teacher night means a lot to your students and parents. Hopefully, these tips will help you start the year off on the right foot and lessen your load just a bit. If you are interested, I have ready to go stations and templates that you can use to make this night less stressful and a lot more fun! Click here if you are interested.