Tonight is my first Back to School Night at my new job. I am really excited and more than a bit nervous. I recently had my first Back to School experience as a parent too! A lot of firsts around here recently.
I've been thinking a lot about what to do with the 10 minutes I have with my students' parents. 10 minutes is not a lot of time. I know it will go by in a blink, but I want to connect with these parents and let them know how excited I am for these classes and their kids. I've decided to skip over class policies and grading and all that since it's on our class websites, and try to just to focus on all the cool stuff we get to do over the course of the semester. I think this is a choice a lot of teachers make, especially in the higher grades where parents have to go around and meet a lot of teachers.
So, I thought I'd give a few tips for Back to School Night for parents, from a teacher's point of view. (This is just my opinion, of course, the teachers you deal with might have totally different ideas, so take it with a grain of salt!)
- Have your contact information ready. I'm going to be trying to collect email addresses from as many parents as I can. The school tries to have that for all kids, but I know I have several missing emails on my class list. I'd really love to have at least one for every kid.
- If you have specific questions about just your kid, those are best handled at another time. At least for me, that means an email later. We have only 10 minutes. If every parents asks a 30 second question about just their child, I'll only even get through half of them.
- If you want to get involved let the teacher know! We are all low on resources and will take every offer of help we can. You have extra supplies? Want to volunteer? Can put me in contact with a potential guest speaker? Great! I want to know all those things. You can let them know at Back to School Night, but send them and email or something too, 'cause it's a crazy night!
- Be prepared to be excited! I really want to get parents as excited about my classes as I am. I know it's at the end of the day and teachers are throwing a lot at you, but we're passionate about what we do. Face to face time with teachers can be rare; try to experience the good things we're putting in front of you, not get too distracted by the details.
- Write down your questions. Of course you're going to have questions; probably lots of them. We're not going to get through them all in 10 minutes, so write them all down and send an email. Teachers want you to feel involved and included, we just can't answer everything for everyone in one night.
I don't know if that will really help anyone, but going into tonight, it's what I would tell every parent before they came if I could. I hope everyone's school year is off to as great a start as mine!