What the parents need
As a parent, I know that when I go to Back to School night I want to accomplish several things. I want to see who is teaching my child (I always hope that they have a warm and welcoming presence), what their qualifications are, where my child is learning, how my child will be learning and what my child will be learning. I am also always on the lookout for how I can help my child be successful.
With this in mind, at Back to School Night, I know that I need to share my credentials with parents, outline the curriculum and course requirements, let parents have a look at the classroom, and share my contact information so they know how to reach me with questions or concerns. As parents are inundated with information at Back-to-School night, this year I am opting for a flyer with this information as well as a Google Slides presentation. This allows me to share the flyer via email with parents who are unable to attend.
I also want parents to see a sample of their child's work (I always make sure student work is posted throughout the classroom) and to have an opportunity to visualize and see first hand examples of how their child will learn.
What teachers need
In addition to ensuring that parents get the information that they need from me, I also have things that I NEED at Back to school Night. First and foremost, it is vital that I establish the understanding that middle school is a team sport. The team is made up of the students, teachers, parents, counselors, and administrators. We all are on the same team and need to keep communication open so that we can help achieve our long-term goal of success for each and every child in our classroom.
Second, I need to use Back to School Night as an opportunity to obtain clues about my students. Remember: teachers are detectives when the school year begins and every clue counts. We need to know our students in order to teach them effectively. As I tell parents, kids do not typically brag about themselves nor do they share their challenges with someone that they just met. I ask parents to fill out a survey, sharing their child's hopes, dreams and challenges with me. Additionally, I collect parents' contact information so that I know the best way to reach them at different points in the day.
Third, I need to build excitement about my curriculum. This is a chance for me to ask parents to discuss current events with their child, to share stories of their family history and to put the news on in the car when they are sitting in traffic. I spend less than 5 hours a week with each student and I need parent support to help make our social studies curriculum come to life at home..
Fourth, I need to introduce parents to our class Twitter feed in order to help build parent engagement. What better way to "spark" conversations at home than to bring parents into our classroom through Twitter? Twitter breaks down barriers and also welcomes connections between parents, teachers, students and community. It's a win-win.
What's your take?
Back to School Night is an energizing evening that comes at a very busy time of year. I am always looking for ways to make Back to School Night more informative for me and parents alike. After all, like any team, we are all in this together. Please share your strategies in the comment section so that we can learn from one another. When we collaborate great ideas BubbleUp!
Back to School Night Resources:
Edutopia Back to School Night Checklist for Teachers
NEA Ideas for a Productive Back to School Night
TeachHub Back-to-School Night DOs and DON'Ts
Scholastic Teachers Clip-and-Save Checklist: Back to School Night
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