As educators, we live by the mantra, “always be prepared.” Whether it pertains to interacting with our students or their parents, the need to be organized and ready to go remains the same. Back-to-School Night can be a nerve-wracking time for teachers who are not used to speaking to a room full of adults. Below are some tips about what to cover and how to best use the limited time with your parents.
In order to keep your back-to-school presentation on track, and to alleviate some nerves and pressure, consider using a visual aid, like a PowerPoint presentation or an agenda. This will give you something to refer to, and keep parents from getting off-topic. On a related note, if you have non-English speaking parents, arrange to have your visual materials translated or have a verbal translator present. At the start of your presentation, be sure to introduce yourself and include your education and teaching history.
Schedule and Procedures
One of the first things to include in your back-to-school night presentation is your daily and weekly classroom schedule. It is important for parents to know how the school day is spent so they can plan their children’s medical appointments accordingly. In addition, knowing the schedule will help them to know the most appropriate times to visit or volunteer in the classroom.
While parents do not need to know all of your classroom procedures, they should be aware of the important ones. As an added benefit, informing them about procedures offers them the opportunity to reinforce certain behaviors at home. Procedures to communicate include:
- Receiving and returning homework.
- Procedures for tardy arrival.
- How to arrange for a student to leave early.
- When and how pupils are to use the restroom or get water.
- Safety procedures for entry and exit of classroom.
Rules and Behavior Plan
Have your classroom rules posted visibly at the front of the room in order to refer to them throughout your presentation. It is a good idea to have print out the rules and send them home for parents and students to review and sign together. Send this sheet home the first day of school, or at Back-To-School Night, either way works.
Next, be sure to clearly explain the consequences of following, or not following the rules. If parents need to get involved when a rule is not followed, communicate to them how that will happen. It is imperative that both students and parents know exactly what happens when classroom rules are violated. Similarly, be sure to clearly communicate the rewards and positive reinforcements for those who follow the rules or go above and beyond what is expected of them.
Standards and Curriculum
Provide a copy of your grade level standards in all content areas so parents can see what their child will be learning. You do not need to go through these specifically during your presentation; there won’t be time for that. Instead, plan to spend a few minutes discussing the curriculum your school uses in each content area. You can briefly highlight the main themes or topics of study within each content area so parents can know what to expect throughout the year. If you use parts of the curriculum for homework, show them what it looks like and how they can help their child with it.
This is also the time to familiarize parents with any special classes that your learners will have throughout the week. For instance, art, music, or physical education may be have a different instructor. If possible, have their contact information available. If you know it, it is also nice to present the topics or learning goals that these special teachers will cover throughout the school year.
This will be the only time all year that you have the majority of the parents in the classroom together. Now is a good time to ask for needed classroom supplies or for volunteers. You may want to have a sign-up sheet available.
Finally, if you want to give them a chance to ask any questions, do it at the end as time permits. Be sure to let them know the best way to contact you should they have questions or concerns throughout the year. A little organized preparation will make your Back-to-School Night experience pleasant and beneficial.
More Back to School Night Resources:
Check out Lesson Planet's back-to-school guide for many great tips and ideas.
Here are so more ideas and tips for a smooth and seamless evening. There are also some great ideas about how to get your pupils involved in welcoming their parents to the classroom.
If you have older children or adolescents, have them take pictures and video footage of important places around campus. They can then use movie-editing software like iMovie to make a movie for their parents. This is a great way to incorporate technology into your classroom and show it off to the parents as well.