Saturday, August 25, 2012

Back to School Night

If I'm being honest, Back to School Night is never my favorite event. I, like many other teachers, find myself a lot less comfortable talking to adults than children. Also, this year, I'm not going to be home for bedtime with my baby :-/

But--back to school night is a good time to meet the parents of the students--it gives us some perspective on our kids and lets us see where they come from. It also gives the parents and opportunity talk to us, tell us their concerns and fears, and start to feel more comfortable because they know their children are in caring hands!

Here's how MY B2SN looks:

I set up a sign-in sheet (with my ocean theme of course!) so that I know who was at B2SN. This isn't to pass judgment on those families that couldn't make it, but to know who may need the information I presented because they WEREN'T there.

I place a file folder on each student's desk. Plus, I make a few extras for the students who have two sets of parents who each want the information. If anyone is unable to attend B2SN, I simply send their folder home with them the next day. That way, everyone gets the information they need. AND the parents have a convenient place to store B2SN forms, and can keep the folder for the entire year to house important forms, papers, or completed, graded work. Yay for double duty!

Anyway---my folders! I glue this paper to the front of the folder:

Inside each folder I place the following forms:

-an outline of our curriculum and basic activities, called "Third Grade...A Peek Ahead!" split into subject areas: ELA, math, science, social studies, and technology, and including my management strategies, homework policies, etc. (I am going to do a separate blog post for this one--it's a biggie!! Stay tuned!)

-a "Let's Keep in Touch" form for their email address and communications preferences

-a parent questionnaire for the parents to answer questions like, "what motivates your child?," "what is your homework routine," and "describe your child's strengths." Since parents truly are the first teachers, chances are they have some ideas that may just be helpful in teaching me something... THANK YOU to Lesson Plan SOS for this amazing idea!

-a letter form for the parents to write their child a letter for the next day. I have had students keep these little letters (printed on 1/3 of a sheet of printer paper) all year long. They love seeing mom or dad's (or grandma's, or auntie's, etc. etc. etc.) love the next morning. It's so comforting to them when they're still in an unfamiliar classroom :o)

You can get all of the above (except the "A Peek Ahead" packet...but I will put this into a future blog post) on my TpT store for only $2!! 

After I quickly go over the information in the folder (and I don't really go through the "A Peek Ahead" packet, I just tell them it's there and what's inside), I show my PPT presentation. I really, really don't loved PPT presentations because they're generally B-O-R-I-N-G and outdated, but it is an effective way to convey a lot of information to parents in a fast way, plus, having the slides there in front of me reminds me of what to say if I become nervous and forget........

Here are my slides as jpegs. If you are interested in the complete show in ppt format, please let me know!
 Obviously I begin with a welcome slide!
 I tell the parents a little bit about me as a person.
 My management style and techniques, as well as our school-wide behavior system (PBS)
 Our schedule (This is my schedule from last year. My schedule from this year isn't done yet because we just got it last week and I haven't even had a chance to change my PPT yet!!)
 Our specials schedule, now called "encore" in our district. Is this common? Seems like such a strange name!
 Supply list, in case anyone didn't receive my summer student welcome letter with the same information.
 I use a student binder in my classroom, and it is a pivotal part of teaching my students responsibility and organization. This slide explains to parents WHY I choose to do this, and why I asked them for more supplies than most other teachers!
 QUICK curriculum overview. The packet in the folder goes much more into detail.
 Some unique or interesting parts of what makes our class what it is.
 Homework policy.
 My policy for birthday treats...
 A call for parent volunteers.
 My use of technology, so the parents know that their children will be exposed to a lot (in some cases) new, and (hopefully) exciting things.

 A screen shot of our classroom website so that parents know if they're in the right place when they go there! I also talk about what will be on the site and how they can use it. (Homework updates, links to educational games, important class announcements)
 Expectations of students, so that parents know their children will be held accountable for doing what they need to do at school.
 Expectations I have for myself, so that parents know I am committed to their child's learning, safety, and happiness.
A gimme slide for any things I might have forgotten about (this is a reminder to me to say anything I might have thought about during the other parts of the presentation), an opportunity to ask questions, and a place to talk about the things that just don't fit anywhere else.

I try to finish the PPT in about 10 minutes, so that parents have a chance to talk to me one-on-one about different situations or to ask private questions. I find the parents really treasure and want this time, even more so than the information I present. Since our B2SN is 2x 30 minute sessions, each group that comes through has limited time. I like to make sure we use it wisely :o)

I hope this helps someone. Have a GREAT B2SN if yours hasn't already happened....


*This post is part of my "Back-to-School" series!*

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