Back to School Night
It’s the most wonderful niiiiiiiight of the year!
No, really. I LOVE Back to School Night. Even thought it gives me more stress than my 2 year old at Disney World without a nap, I still love it. Also, a note before we continue: our BTSN is adults only, about a week after school starts.
I feel Back to School Night is our time to impress, inspire and involve our parents! Last year, I was 7 days into my new job and could barely get a text-only PowerPoint together. This year, I went all out.
It started before they even walked in the door. I have a large lobby area in front of my room that I have furnished, and I had snacks and water waiting for them on the table.
I figured if we’re asking parents to come listen to us talk from 6:30-7:30, probably after a long day of work but before dinner, we need to make sure their blood sugar is level.
Next to the snacks, I had samples of our workbooks, and some promotional materials for our new math curriculum I had saved from the adoption committee team I was on.
Also out in the lobby area, I put sign-up sheets for every field trip we would have this year. I made sure to plan them out and schedule them over the summer so I would know the dates ahead of time. I also had sign-up sheets for holiday parties and classroom events.
Lastly, I offered Back to School Conferences for parents the following week if they wanted to come in and talk with me about anything concerning their child. We don’t officially have conferences until November, but I found out last year that 3.5 months is waaaay too long into the school year to wait for some of these kiddos.
Once inside, parents found their student’s desk. I had a few surprises waiting for them there.
The first was a checklist of all the things they should do before they leave. I am visual person, and I thought my parents might be as well. They’ll hear what you want them to do, but then forget it all before they leave. So my checklist had things like ‘sign the sign-in sheet’, ‘grab an apple from the Giving Tree’, ‘leave a wish in the Parent Wish Jar’, etc. They also received a First Day picture of their child, and a magnet with my contact information. If the child’s parents were separated, I had two sets of everything on the desk-one for each parent.
Next, I had a folder. I grabbed these at Target for .10 each. Next year I’d like them to look nicer, but I ran out of time this year. All the names were hand-written on labels, but will be typed next year. If you want a copy of the nametags I used on the folders, click here!
Inside the folder, I had several sets of papers. The first was a calendar. Oh, the calendar! I probably put in 10+ hours making this thing. I had dates for every single field trip, family night, PTA activity, school activity, math test, holiday party and major project I knew of ahead of time. I had the students decorate the cover for their parents, and then I bound it on a machine I convinced the PTA to buy for our workroom. 😉
I also made a handbook for them highlighting all the important information I need them to have on hand this year: social networking information, fifth grade events, what we’ll be learning throughout the year, our weekly schedule, our grading policy, etc. On the last page, I hand-wrote their child’s login information for Google Docs, Engrade, Edmodo, etc.
I also had two packets of forms to sign: all the permission slip forms for the year, and other various permission slips forms. These would include permission to publish student pictures/work online, understanding of the plagiarism policy, sign-up form for our classroom Facebook group, etc.
Just like their homework folders, there were two sides: To Be Completed and Keep at Home. All form packets went on the To Be Completed side, and the calendar/handbook went on the Keep at Home side.
In the front of the classroom, I had a small table with the Parent Wish Jar. I got the template from Kimberly Gillow at Teacher Pay Teacher (free download!!).
I also had a Giving Tree drawn on the board, and actually remembered to ask parents to take a look at it. Last year I forgot, and no one took anything. Boo-hoo. This year I’ve already gotten back lots of labels and scotch tape refills! 😉 (Under the Giving Tree are all the model texts we used in our first week of school.)
Our decorations were pretty simple-we did t-shirts with our First Day pictures on them and hung them on our clothesline.
And we used these cute Back to School Pennants and hung them on the side of our room. You can find them here from Wise Words on Teacher Pay Teacher (free download!).
After the parents got in the room, checked out their folder, munched on their snacks and said hello to all their new parent-friends, I gave my PowerPoint presentation. I gotta say, I think I nailed it. Lots of laughing and nodding and scribbling of notes = a happy Kat. My husband was in the back changing the slides for me and we played off each other perfectly.
And lastly (and most importantly), I went out and stuffed myself with fajitas, chips and guacamole and an ice cold Diet Coke as a reward for all my hard work. Have I mentioned I love Back to School Night? 🙂
To help you love BTSN as much as I do, I’ll be bundling all the resources in the next week or so. Keep your eyes peeled for a post on them!
Have a wonderful beginning of the year, all!