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Tips for a Better-than-Ever Back-to-School Night!

Do you have the Back-to-School Night Blues? Here are a few tips and strategies to help make this the best Back-to-School Night ever . . .

I try to make parents feel as welcomed and comfortable in my classroom as possible by turning off the harsh overhead lights in favor of softer lighting from a few lamps scattered around the room, playing music that we can easily talk over, and providing a platter of soft cookies from a local bakery. This immediately puts parents at ease and helps conversations flow easier!

I write a couple of interesting facts about myself in large, easy-to-read print on the whiteboard, such as:

Hi! My name is Sherri Tyler and I love teaching ELA! I grew up on the Mojave Desert in Southern California, I tell jokes in class every day, and I assign homework every night of the year except on holidays and days after the Buffalo Bills win!

This breaks the ice, helps nervous parents find a way to connect with me, and immediately gives us some common ground to build dialogue! Now, I’m not a huge jokester, nor am I a football fan (please don’t tell my students!) but I tell jokes every day and I watch every Bills game (our local team!) because it gives me something to talk about with my 8th graders and their parents . . . more importantly, parents remember me, they return my phone calls and e-mails, and they walk in my class for Parent-Teacher Conferences later in the year with either a joke or a witty observation about the most recent game – and conversation flows easily, putting them at ease to talk about academics and behavior after a few minutes!

I pre-print sticky notes for parents to fill out with their individual questions and comments, letting them know I’ll touch bases with them within one week. Parents leave their sticky notes on a poster as they walk out the door. (Providing writing utensils always facilitates more participation!)

This allows me to keep the conversation relevant for everyone, gives parents a quick and easy way to communicate with me, and also helps me gather current phone numbers and email addresses!
Find more Back-to-School night tips and strategies on the collaborative blog post Surviving and Thriving at Back to School Night by my friends Jonathan and Lisa over at Created for Learning:
Happy Teaching!

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