Virginia Williams, Possip reporter with a background in Elementary Education & Special Education, created tips to create a wonderful family-centered Meet the Teacher night!
It’s that time of year! Pencils and crayons have pointy tips, the whiteboards are shiny, and textbooks have crisp spines. This can only mean one thing…it’s the start of the school year and it’s time for Meet the Teacher Night! First impressions are lasting impressions, and we want to get this first impression right. It helps to begin with a positive mindset.
Believe in the best in your families! School leaders and classroom teachers should expect that parents will come, will want to meet their child’s teachers, and will want to partner with them for a successful school year. With such high expectations of families, we ought to also have high expectations of ourselves and we need to be exceptionally prepared for this special night!
— So what does that mean? What should we expect from Meet the Teacher Night? In our opinion, here are some points to consider:
The goal is for families to feel comfortable and to feel like they know the teacher a bit better when they leave. A smile, eye contact and an enthusiastic greeting make a big difference. If young students are present, get down on their level! Share some things about yourself and create opportunities for connection…are you a big UNC basketball fan? Are you obsessed with your dog? Perhaps you have a family photo in your classroom. These fun facts make you approachable! This night should be fun and can serve as a strong foundation for positive relationships!
Share a bit about your behavioral expectations and classroom routines. Share what parents can expect in terms of the homework load, communication and grading. Consider providing this information in a presentation and also as hard copy one-pagers like a syllabus or calendar.
Be available for one-on-one time
When your classroom is full of people, it can be difficult to speak with each individual and feel like you’ve given them enough of your time and focus. We understand this challenge. There are a few things you can do to make one-on-one time possible. First, split your class/families into groups so the Meet the Teacher Night is staggered. Assign different blocks of time to different families to minimize the crowd. If this approach isn’t an option at your school, provide something for families to do while they ‘wait’ for a chance to talk with you.
For example, ask them to complete paperwork such as an “All About My Child” questionnaire or simply a contact information form. For younger grades, have parents complete a scavenger hunt with their student to locate their cubby, desk/table spot, carpet spot, and different spaces in the classroom. Lastly, create a place in the classroom where parents can leave questions/concerns if they don’t have a chance to ask you in person!
— We know you are looking forward to Meet the Teacher Night and hope that these tips help you feel confident and optimistic. With the right preparation, your families will love you and will feel supported and informed as you begin the year.