The Survival Series - Back to School Night September 14 2009

I love teaching...kids. In front of adults, not so much.

While I'm self-possessed and entertaining in front of kids, I choke in front of adults. My knees tremble and I sweat. It's not a way I like to spend my Back to School evening.

So I figured out how I can feel more relaxed and how students can take a more central role in introducing all that your classroom has to offer.

There is, however, a lot of work to do before Back to School Night begins.

I'm a busy mom, so when I leave school in the afternoon, my day is far from over. I need to pick up my kids and feed them and my husband. So on Back to School Night, we keep it simple with a dinner out - no planning, no cooking, no mess! Because this night happens every September, I'm conscious of the expense in our family's budget. And since dishes are my chore, I'm excited to go out!

Sign Up Sheet

I like to have Sign-Up Sheets for different classroom needs and activities. Consider having a sheet to collect parents' email addresses. I also like to have parents sign up for volunteer duties (at home or in school) and indicate if they're interested in chaperoning fieldtrips - I provided an example if you'd like to use it. And don't forget that parents will probably want to sign up for a slot for Fall Conferences, so have one of those ready, too!

Volunteer Sign Up Sheet

Info Sheet for Parents

Including an Info Sheet will take much of the pressure off you having to speak to parents about stuff they won't really remember anyway. Your Info Sheet is one way for parents to actually take home what they need to know about your classroom. Highlights include your Homework policy, Snacks, Weekly Schedule, Volunteer Opportunities, Classroom Rules, and Your Contact Info (email, phone number)

Take the Tour

I type up a half-sheet, photocopying them and placing one on each student's desk. As students come in to our classroom with their parents, they show their parents around the room, pointing out their work so far as well as important landmarks, such as where homework is turned in each morning. Other important elements could include:

  • Artwork
  • Desk and Cubbie/Mailbox
  • Sign-Up Sheets - Conferences, materials you need donated, volunteer duties you need filled

The tour ends with a stop by me, the Teacher, where parents receive an Info Sheet in exchange for the signed "Tour Sheet." Then, all of the "Tour Sheets" are placed into a box for a drawing, and I have a small, simple prize for the winner!

There's a little bit of prep time on your part, but you can do those simple tasks before you leave for a dinner out with your family. And the absence of pressure will be worth it!