Summer nights are getting shorter which means the countdown to back to school night is on! If that sentence alone made you feel overwhelmed, I get it! Back to school night is usually synonymous with creating the perfect classroom atmosphere, engaging with parents, and explaining your teaching strategies and classroom rules. Don’t worry! We have you covered! Keep reading and you’ll get a comprehensive guide full of effective strategies to help you make back to school night a breeze!
Back to School Night
The start of a new year is always marked by the much-anticipated “Back to School NIght.” This is an important event that gives you a chance to meet teachers, students, and parents. For K-5 educators, this is a chance to make a great first impression, connect with parents, and lay the groundwork for a positive and productive school year. What do you need for a great back to school night? Let’s break it down!
- Know your role
- Navigate Back to School Night for Kindergarten
- Maximize your impact
- Key areas to cover
Knowing Your Role
We all know “Back to School Night” goes beyond the academic duties of a teacher. However, if you think about it as setting the stage for a new year, it creates a more positive outlook. So, what are your responsibilities?
- Create a welcoming atmosphere
- Make a impactful presentation
- Build rapport with parents
Creating a Welcoming Atmosphere for Back to School Night
When your students and parents walk into your classroom, that is their first impression. We all know first impressions matter, so what does your classroom say about you? You want to make sure your classroom becomes a reflection of your teaching style. Create a welcoming space that displays a space for student work, provides informative bulletin boards, and shows just how organized you are! It can even be helpful to have your seating chart done. This helps give parents a chance to really see their child’s learning environment.
Make a Presentation that Counts!
Back to School Night is a unique opportunity for you to connect with parents on a more personal level. Having a sign-in sheet will help you remember names. However, a quick survey will give you a glimpse into the personality of each student. With this survey you can learn about student needs, get parent contact information, and know what parents’ concerns are as well as their interests.
Navigating Back to School Night for Kindergarten
Back to School Night in first through fifth grade seems less daunting than it does for kindergarten. Why? Well kindergarten is the first time for all students and some parents in the school atmosphere. That means their nerves are higher, and they probably have more questions. So, how do you navigate these nerves? By doing the following:
- Reassuring parents
- Detailing the daily routine
- Discussing the big transition
Reassuring Parents at Back to School Night
Parents are going to be worried about their little girl or boy going to school for the first time. Those who have done this before will be a little less worried but the worry will still be there because each student is different. Make sure you reassure your parents by talking about your commitment to each child’s safety, wellbeing, and educational progress. You can also reassure students that this will be a positive and fun place for learning by having activities out for students to do. Make sure whatever you set out is easy to clean up because you don’t want to give yourself more work to do.
Make Your Daily Routine Known
Parents like to know what’s going on during a typical day in your classroom. Tell your students’ parents what a day will look like from circle time to snack breaks. Sharing a schedule of your every day routine at Back to School Night will help parents visualize the day at school and will be able to support you better at home.
Talk about the Transition
Starting kindergarten can be a tricky time. Letting parents know you are with them and working on strategies to make the transition smoother can be a huge lifesaver! Plus, working together to make the transition smooth for students will help you build parent rapport.
Maximize your Impact for “Back to School Night”
When parents walk into back to school night, there are so many things they are thinking about. Meeting the teacher, getting form filled out, setting up a bus stop, and more! To make sure you have a successful event, make sure to do the following:
- Clarify communication channels
- Unpack homework policies
- Explain important procedures
Clarifying Communication Channels
When you have parents in your room, you want to focus on the big ideas. One of the biggest ideas is when and how is the best way to communicate with you. It’s important at this point that you set a clear boundary. Make sure you highlight any digital platforms your school uses for updates, grades, or educational resources. In addition, make sure you highlight how to get those platforms if parents don’t have access to them yet.
Breakdown Homework Policies
On Back to School Night, you can explain what you expect of students in terms of homework. Here is a great time to talk about how often you’ll send homework home, why you send homework home, and your overall expectations in terms of homework being done. Many people feel elementary is too young to have homework, but it’s important for your parents to understand why it’s important from time to time.
Elaborate on Important Procedures
There are important things that happen every single day at school that parents need to know how to do correctly. Make sure you explain pick-up and drop-off routines, emergency procedures, and weather related information. All of this is there to create a safe and predictable environment for students. Therefore, it’s important all parents follow the expectations that you tell them at Back to School Night.
Key Areas to Cover at Back to School Night
When you have all these parents in one space, it’s important to go over all the crucial concepts including:
- Your curriculum for the year
- Behavior expectations
- Parent help opportunities
It’s important to give parents an overview of what you plan on doing in terms of curriculum throughout the school year. Give a detail of subjects, key concepts, and skills your students will learn throughout the year. This also gives parents a chance to support you throughout the year because they will know your academic goals.
Students are going to push the boundaries. However, if you tell parents what your classroom expectations are right from the get-go, you’ll be able to get their support when students need to be reminded of the expectations. In addition to explaining your classroom expectations, make sure you tell parents what your reward system is as well as how you will handle any discipline. Doing this shows parents you are committed to maintaining a positive learning environment for their students.
Back to School Night is also the perfect night to talk to students about how they can help you inside and outside of the classroom. Inside the classroom you can talk about the need for a room parent or two, school activities they can volunteer to help with, and committees they can serve on. Outside of the classroom, you can talk to them about how their support of learning is a huge helper throughout the school year.
Back to School Night might seem like just another thing you have to do. However, it can be an invaluable chance to kick-start a positive and productive school year. By using your time wisely, you will be more ready to start the school year because everyone will be on the same page. So, gear up for back to school night and set the stage for the best school year ever!