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September 10, 2015

Middle School Back-to-School Night

By Rhonda Stewart
Grades 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    I made it through the first week of school! The classroom is slowly coming together. It is not totally complete, but it is unfolding into an awesome learning environment. Classroom management strategies are in place, there is consistent positive reinforcement, and my weekly lesson plans are done. It is the beginning of the second week of school for me and my students and I are just settling into our classroom routines. And then, it hits me: back-to-school night will be here before I know it! So, now I have to switch gears and begin to prepare for grade six literacy back-to-school night.

    Every year, I try to come up with something new to keep my parents informed and engaged in what’s going on in the classroom. This year, as soon as parents approach the classroom door, I want them to get a sense that our classroom is a great place to strengthen literacy skills. It’s a great place for their children to hone their craft. It is my hope that after back-to-school night, there will be plenty of conversation at the dinner table about how school is going in our classroom. But most of all, I hope to strengthen the school-to-home connection so that my students are successful.

     

    Getting Ready for Back-to-School Night

    I view this as another opportunity for my inner actor self to be on stage. As much as I would like for this presentation to be interactive, time does not permit that. Middle school back-to-school night usually runs as an abbreviated day in the life of a middle school student. Parents are given their child’s schedule to meet teachers and get a glimpse of what’s going on by moving from class to class.

    This year, I am going to do something a little different. I am currently taking pictures of moments in the classroom. The idea is to take these moments and place them in a slide show that will be playing in the classroom as the parents enter. I have been playing around with iPhoto and found it easy to use. (The running joke in my house is that if it has anything to do with technology then mom is running from it. So if I can play around with it and get results, anyone with patience and time can too!) Here is a sample using moments from my classroom last year.

    But, aside from the slide show, there are certain routines and must-haves that can help you create a smooth and polished Back-to-School night.

    • Sign-in Sheet You will want to keep a record of who was in attendance for the evening. This is also a way in which you can get information from the parent about the best way to communicate with them about their child. My current sign-in sheet reflects this year’s theme of Dr. Seuss.

    Previous

    Current

    • Brief overview of the curriculum and procedures — This is a syllabus that reflects the instruction and grading for the current school year.

    • Parking lot for questions — Have a location for parents to place questions they may have about the curriculum. Hand out post-it notes for this purpose. (Make it clear that they should limit their questions to curriculum matters. Parent-teacher night is the time for questions about the student.) By allowing them to "park" questions, you will eliminate interruptions to your presentation. You can respond to their questions in a follow up, thank you email.

     
    • Timekeeper — This will help you to stay on track and not go over your allotted time. I keep a watch or use my cellphone to keep me on track. I usually set a time limit for each activity.

    • Optional giveaway — I always like to include a little something for the parents to walk away with. I don’t know anyone who does not like getting something for free. I love these school-themed sticky notes and parents can use them for the afore-mentioned parking lot questions!

     

    Pearls of Wisdom Keep the lines of communication open. Try to schedule a few phone calls a day to introduce yourself to the parents. Remember to stay positive and encourage them to attend back-to-school night at your school.

    I am planning on recycling an activity from my previous back-to-school post from last year that the parents enjoyed. It gave them a bird's-eye view on how a middle school literacy room operates. The feedback was positive enough for me to try it again. I am looking forward to seeing how it works out this year.

    Looking for additional ideas to make your Back to School Night the best ever? Take a look at these additional resources!

    Good Luck to all for a great back-to-school night! Do you have any tips for planning back-to-school night that work? Please share! I enjoy sharing ideas that make all of our lives easier! 

     
     
     
     
     

     

    I made it through the first week of school! The classroom is slowly coming together. It is not totally complete, but it is unfolding into an awesome learning environment. Classroom management strategies are in place, there is consistent positive reinforcement, and my weekly lesson plans are done. It is the beginning of the second week of school for me and my students and I are just settling into our classroom routines. And then, it hits me: back-to-school night will be here before I know it! So, now I have to switch gears and begin to prepare for grade six literacy back-to-school night.

    Every year, I try to come up with something new to keep my parents informed and engaged in what’s going on in the classroom. This year, as soon as parents approach the classroom door, I want them to get a sense that our classroom is a great place to strengthen literacy skills. It’s a great place for their children to hone their craft. It is my hope that after back-to-school night, there will be plenty of conversation at the dinner table about how school is going in our classroom. But most of all, I hope to strengthen the school-to-home connection so that my students are successful.

     

    Getting Ready for Back-to-School Night

    I view this as another opportunity for my inner actor self to be on stage. As much as I would like for this presentation to be interactive, time does not permit that. Middle school back-to-school night usually runs as an abbreviated day in the life of a middle school student. Parents are given their child’s schedule to meet teachers and get a glimpse of what’s going on by moving from class to class.

    This year, I am going to do something a little different. I am currently taking pictures of moments in the classroom. The idea is to take these moments and place them in a slide show that will be playing in the classroom as the parents enter. I have been playing around with iPhoto and found it easy to use. (The running joke in my house is that if it has anything to do with technology then mom is running from it. So if I can play around with it and get results, anyone with patience and time can too!) Here is a sample using moments from my classroom last year.

    But, aside from the slide show, there are certain routines and must-haves that can help you create a smooth and polished Back-to-School night.

    • Sign-in Sheet You will want to keep a record of who was in attendance for the evening. This is also a way in which you can get information from the parent about the best way to communicate with them about their child. My current sign-in sheet reflects this year’s theme of Dr. Seuss.

    Previous

    Current

    • Brief overview of the curriculum and procedures — This is a syllabus that reflects the instruction and grading for the current school year.

    • Parking lot for questions — Have a location for parents to place questions they may have about the curriculum. Hand out post-it notes for this purpose. (Make it clear that they should limit their questions to curriculum matters. Parent-teacher night is the time for questions about the student.) By allowing them to "park" questions, you will eliminate interruptions to your presentation. You can respond to their questions in a follow up, thank you email.

     
    • Timekeeper — This will help you to stay on track and not go over your allotted time. I keep a watch or use my cellphone to keep me on track. I usually set a time limit for each activity.

    • Optional giveaway — I always like to include a little something for the parents to walk away with. I don’t know anyone who does not like getting something for free. I love these school-themed sticky notes and parents can use them for the afore-mentioned parking lot questions!

     

    Pearls of Wisdom Keep the lines of communication open. Try to schedule a few phone calls a day to introduce yourself to the parents. Remember to stay positive and encourage them to attend back-to-school night at your school.

    I am planning on recycling an activity from my previous back-to-school post from last year that the parents enjoyed. It gave them a bird's-eye view on how a middle school literacy room operates. The feedback was positive enough for me to try it again. I am looking forward to seeing how it works out this year.

    Looking for additional ideas to make your Back to School Night the best ever? Take a look at these additional resources!

    Good Luck to all for a great back-to-school night! Do you have any tips for planning back-to-school night that work? Please share! I enjoy sharing ideas that make all of our lives easier! 

     
     
     
     
     

     

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