Open House, also known as Back to School Night, is a yearly tradition that almost all teachers will find themselves participating in. This night is very important for making a positive first impression on parents, informing parents of expectations, and giving a preview of the curriculum you will be covering. It is important to strike the correct balance when presenting at this event. We’re here today to offer you some advice to make this event as smooth as possible.
The first major thing that any teacher should do in preparation is have their classroom organized and ready for parents. This includes many different aspects. First off, make sure your classroom is clean. Desks should be wiped off, bulletin boards should be pristine, and everything should be well organized. If you work with very young students, be sure there is seating available that parents will be able to sit in comfortably. Make sure you have a desk dedicated to checking in. This check in desk should ask for parent names and provide a name tag for parents, at a minimum. You can also use this desk to provide handouts with any information you want. A nice idea, if your open house is held several weeks into school, is to have a folder with examples of each child’s work on their desks.
These are just the basics of organization, though. If you want to go above and beyond in terms of getting your room ready, there are some things you can do. Decorate the outside of your classroom, inside of your classroom, or door with fun “welcome” decorations. Another great idea, if you can afford it, is to offer treats for parents. This includes items such as snacks and drinks or goodies. Set out a communal treat bowl or take some extra time to make a goodie bag for every parent!
The main event is, of course, your presentation to the parents. The length of this will depend greatly on how long your open house is. Remember, you want there to be plenty of time for parents to do everything. Parents need time to check in, collect handouts, and find a seat. There will then be time for a presentation. After your presentation you want parents to have time to explore the classroom and have time to speak with you personally. Remember; don’t talk with parents one on one for too long…that’s not what this event is for!
When you are giving your actual presentation, there are a few main topics you should try and cover. Tell parents a little about yourself, such as your education, where you are from, etc. You should also explain your daily schedule. Give parents a generalized walkthrough as well as a brief overview of how you approach each subject. It can also be a good idea to explain some of the most exciting things you will be doing at school that year. It’s also important that when you discuss standardized tests, you don’t dedicate too much time to it. You don’t want parents to think test scores are all you care about. Also, make clear your discipline policies. You can cut down on the length of your presentation by including some of this information in the handouts for your parents.
Above all, during open house you must be professional and approachable. Have confidence in yourself when you speak, and make sure you show that you care for each and every one of your students.
If you are looking for more specific ideas, such as sign in stations or goodie bags, check out our open house/meet the teacher pinterest board! Good luck!