Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Five: 5 Ingredients to a Successful Open House

It’s Open House season! In our district this special evening is called Curriculum Night. Schools have a great deal of flexibility in how they plan the events, but most schools begin with some sort of video or closed circuit message from the principal and PTA, and then the teacher makes a presentation to the parents in her classroom, outlining policies, procedures, and curriculum. Here are some hints to make it great!

1. Plan what you’ll say. Some teachers will do better with a typed, formal script, and others are great at speaking off the cuff. Either way you still need to have a plan about what you’ll talk about so that you don’t miss anything or get sidetracked. You might consider one of these options for organizing your presentation: PowerPoint, Prezi, outline, agenda, notecards, posters, handouts, interactive board presentation, or a combination of these. I always used my class handbook as a guide, and the parents had the handbook to take home for reference through the year.

2. Dress professionally. I can already hear some of you saying, “It shouldn’t matter what I wear. I’m not there to impress them.” In a way that is true. Parent night isn’t a fashion show. On the other hand, how many times have you wished that educators got more respect in our culture? If we want to be treated as professionals, looking like one is a good start.

3. Set the stage. Make parents feel comfortable and at ease in your classroom. You don’t want them to get the impression that you are disorganized or scattered. Clear your desk, finish hanging the bulletin board you didn’t complete the first week, and stash that stack of papers you need to grade. You might consider going the extra mile by providing a simple snack such as cookies. It takes a bit more effort, but it makes parents feel good about coming to school.

4. Leave time at the end for questions. Parents will probably have plenty of questions, no matter how clearly you’ve explained how you operate. Allow time to answer questions of general nature, but don’t let a parent sidetrack you into a mini-conference. If a conversation is heading in this direction, invite the parent to email you for an appointment.

5. Send home information to those that didn’t attend. You’ll undoubtedly have some parents who can’t make it. Gather some information and write a generic letter as a cover sheet for the packet. Invite them to contact you with any questions, and be sure to provide all of your contact information. The class handbook is a great comprehensive reference for parents that you can send home for those that didn’t make it.

Open House always made me a bit nervous; I was never as confident in front of a room of adults as I was in front of a room full of children! These steps can help to set your mind at ease and ensure everything goes smoothly.

What do you do for Open House?

1 comment:

  1. As a parent, I really love seeing lots of student work on the walls. It is also fun to have the parents write a little note to their children to leave on the desks.

    Minds in Bloom


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