Your first Open House (Meet the Teacher night) as a New Teacher is not only important, it’s a milestone! This is just one more rite of passage into the world of teaching.
I was completely blindsided by Open House my first year. It was scheduled for Tuesday (the day after we came back!) at 6:30pm. Although I did come up to the school the week before to do some preliminary set-up, I was far from ready to welcome guests! And, as I mentioned previously, you won’t have as much time as you think during the pre-school week to prepare your classroom. I found this out the hard way, and was working for 2 days straight until 8pm in an attempt to get things presentable.
It was a disaster. I had no presentation, no real systems nailed down as far as homework, late work, absent procedures, etc. When the parents asked questions, I somehow managed to appear competent despite the overwhelming realization that I clearly was NOT ready!
I still shudder at the thought of that day…
Learn from MY MISTAKES! In the years since, I’ve developed a much more professional, polished, and organized system for Open House.
First, What’s the Goal?
The goal of an Open House/ Meet the Teacher Night, from the Teacher’s perspective, is
- Obviously, meet and engage with your new students
- Meet their parents- build trust with them so that they are confident in your ability to teach their child
- Explain how your classroom will run: the expectations, the systems/routines that you use, homework policy, etc
- Make a strong first impression!
Parents are often concerned about their child having a first year teacher. (They don’t know how amazing you are-yet!) This is your chance to dispel any worries and get them excited to be a part of your class!
Great! So, How Exactly Do I Do That?
I’m glad you asked! Let’s get the prep work done first.
FYI- I created a COMPLETE pack with everything I reference today, plus more! It’s a HUGE bundle that will save you a lot of time! This is what I use in my own classroom, in 2 color options. I think it’s super-cute, but I may be a bit biased 🙂
Obviously you don’t have to use mine, but if you want to check it out, click below to see what it includes! (Pssst- it’s cheaper for my First Belle buddies- 1/2 off from my TpT store!)
Buy Open House Bundle for 50% Off!
What You Need to Do BEFORE Open House:
- Arrange Desks and Assign Names/ Name Tags! Kids love to come in and see where they are sitting!
- Have your basic layout arranged so that the kids can get used to where everything is. Everything does not need to be perfect!
- LABEL important areas so they can get a feel for your classroom! (The younger your students are, the more important this is!)
- Print out the following:
Volunteer Sign Up Page
Classroom Wish List Tags
**These info sheets will be used throughout the year and will go into your Teacher Binder! Instead of YOU filling out all of the students’ information, let the parents do it for you! Work Smarter Not Harder! 🙂
5. Fill in and Print out the Welcome Letter, About Your Student Pages, Class Dojo PIN sheets (if using), Overview Refrigerator Page, and Contact Cards.
6. Prepare Your Presentation!
Use a PowerPoint to outline everything you want to cover. This will help you stay on track and remember everything you want to say.
*If you are using mine, simply fill in your own information, and of course add anything additional you need!
You may laugh when I say this, but SAVE YOUR PRESENTATION! Like, in 2 different places. I may or may not have lost a lot of hard work over the years…
Also, test your presentation on whatever technology you plan to use on the big day, just to ensure you’re comfortable with everything.
7. Make a packet for each student in your class. When the parents and students arrive, each desk should have
- A Welcome Letter – with your information filled in
- An Overview Refrigerator Card filled in (with what you can- some portions are for the parent to fill out) *if possible, print these on cardstock- they will last longer and parents appreciate it!
- Tell Me About Your Student page
- Contact Card- Filled in
Time for the Big Day!
On the day of Open House, arrange your classroom into “stations.” If you have extra tables, use them, but if not, simply hang each station up on the blackboard.
(place this near the Door)
Have parents sign in with their name and student. Work Smarter Not Harder Tip #2: On your sign-in sheet, have a column for Parent Name, Student Name, Phone #, and e-mail. Then you don’t have to recopy the information later! Just keep this sheet in your Parent Contact Binder!
Volunteer Sign Up
Anyone interested in helping out in the classroom can sign their name and provide contact info. Keep this information for later so that you can easily set up parties, class activities, or just get a helping hand!
Another Work Smarter Not Harder Tip! (#3): Don’t look up all of this information if you don’t have to! Most parents will know what bus their student rides, so they can fill in the info for you! Clip this to a clipboard and hang by your door when it’s time for dismissal!
Classroom Wish List
I actually didn’t do this until this past year, but my classroom parents were amazingly generous! I was extremely grateful and appreciative! If you choose to do a wishlist, pick items that you know you will use daily and run out of quickly! For me, its:
- Expo Markers!
- Post-It Notes
- Glue Sticks
- Expo Markers!
- Did I mention Expo Markers???
Ok, I clearly do way too much on the dry erase boards 🙂 Pick whatever you know your class will use, or what you predict will be used the most. I have also seen teachers request recess equipment, art supplies, and even books! I think it depends on your school/area.
Welcome everyone and shake your new students’ hands as they enter. Remember, the kids view you the same as they view an older, more experienced teacher, so don’t be nervous! Generate enthusiasm by showing how happy and excited you are to begin your year together!
Direct everyone to sign in on the sheet on the way to their seats. Once the chatter is down, begin your presentation. The packet on each child’s desk contains much of the information in the presentation, so be sure to reference the different pages as you go.
Answer any questions and instruct parents to fill in the blank parts of the Overview page- this is an AWESOME resource that they just keep on their refrigerator during the year! This, plus the contact cards, are wonderful ways to help parents feel connected to the classroom.
Following the Presentation, invite everyone to tour the room, ask questions, and visit each station. Also, have the parents fill out the “About Your Student” sheets. This will give you some insight into each child before the year even begins!
What Do The Kids DO?
Well, at our school, the students are taken to the gym for games while we discuss the boring stuff with the parents. HOWEVER, if your students stay in the room, make them feel like they are a real part of the classroom! I use an extensive Classroom Economy system, and I use this day to display the jobs for the year and allow students to pick up an “application” to fill out for the job of their choice! (I teach 5th grade)
Provide a quick, fun activity to get the students engaged! You could even have them fill out an “About Me” page as well!
And Before You Know It, It’s All Over!
Give your new students something to remember you by! Throw some candy or mints in little ziplocks and attach the “Thanks For Visiting” tags to them. Give each child one as they leave. Obviously, this is not essential, but it does make for a nice finishing touch!
You Did It!
Congratulations! You made it through your first Open House! It’s a lot of work, but the payoff is HUGE: Your new students and parents see you as an organized, confident teacher. They are not focusing on the fact that you are new, but on the fact that you have provided them with resources to make the school year run smoothly.
You clearly explained how your classroom will run and what’s expected. If my kid was in your class, I’d be pretty darn excited about the school year!
Way to go, awesome teacher! (wait- are you new? There’s no way- you pulled that off like a pro!) You deserve a treat! Grab one of those leftover “Thanks For Visiting” bags and have a mini-party 🙂
Don’t chill for too long, though- there’s a lot more to do! You need to nail down exactly how you will be managing behaviors in your classroom. A well-run classroom is an effective classroom!
In the next post, you will determine exactly what your behavior management style is. Also, we will take a look at some of the best (and worst) practices for behavior management! See you soon!