To say that my first back-to-school night as a teacher was a bit nerve racking would be an understatement! However, through the years, I learned some invaluable lessons that helped me build confidence and set the stage for an outstanding year.
Back-to-school night tips:
- Create a sign-in sheet and a parent volunteer sign-up sheet for specific responsibilities that haven’t been filled. (See sample sign-in form.)
- Create an agenda, print copies, and make them available for parents at the sign-in table. Your professionalism and organizational skills will impress parents. (Provide pens and paper for note taking, too!)
- Compose your introduction to parents and try to memorize it. This will get you through the initial jitters and help you exude confidence, warmth, and conviction.
- Shake the hands of parents as they are entering the room and finding a place to sit.
- Place informational flyers at the sign-in table (or on the desks) so that parents can have something to read while waiting for the program to begin.
- Help parents locate their child’s desk. Here is a cute idea using students’ self-portraits.
- Create a PowerPoint presentation of the vital information and/or a parent packet. Topics to cover include: Common Core Standards information; tips for reading with your child; homework expectations and sample of exemplary homework packet or assignment; report card sample with explanations of how scores are determined; clear and concise parent expectations and responsibilities; list of educational websites, etc.
- Have students make invitations for Back-to-School Night.
- Have students write a letter to their parents and place it on their desks. (See sample letter form.)
- Take photos of the students working in every curriculum area and throughout the day. Then, create a slideshow or PowerPoint presentation of ”A Day in the Life of a ______ Grader.” This will give parents (especially English language learner parents) a clear idea of what a day looks like for their child.
- Ask parents to complete the “Tell Me About Your Child” form and to write a letter back to their child. (See parent letter form.)
- Videotape students introducing themselves, talking about their goals for the year, what career path they want to follow, etc. Keep each video well under one minute! Then, create a simple movie of the clips. PARENTS LOVE THIS!
Do you have other ideas for a smooth back-to-school night? If so, please share!
Alice Evans is a forty-year veteran National Board Certified elementary classroom teacher and a published author. She recently retired from the San Diego Unified School District and has published a children’s chapter book entitled Torrey Pines Summer.