Meet the teacher night can be hectic and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be with these six tips to make your meet the teacher or back to school night run smoothly, make a lasting impression on your students and their families and set up your year for success.
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#1: Meet the Teacher Folder
I always like to have a met meet the teacher folder that I send home with my parents and it’s clearly labeled.
There’s a label on the front that tells them welcome to Mrs. Sullins‘ class. This folder is for you to keep it home for you keep any important papers or things throughout the school year.
Then on the inside there is a label on the left that says “left at home” so that’s all the papers of just information that they might need but they need to leave them at home. Then I put a label on the right that says “please return back on Monday” because on our meet the teacher night we always have a ton of paperwork that we send home with them so this is a good way for them to keep up with it but then also to remind them that they need to send back.
I also have a little paper label that a paperclip on to anything that needs to be completed that night at meet the teacher.
#2 Teacher Contact Magnet
My second tip for you is to offer a freebie for the parents to help build a relationship with them. At our school, we always have a free back-to-school gift for our kids. This year our theme is “Our future so bright” so all my kids will get a pair of cheap sunglasses from Walmart. But for my parents, I always make teacher contact magnets.
It’s really simple. It includes my name, my phone number (which is really the number to our office) and my email address. It also has our lunchtime because a lot of parents at our school will come and eat with their kids at lunch, but they always forget what time it is.
It is about the size of a business card and I put a magnet on the back so they can put it on their fridge at home and they have all of that information they can easily see. I use it every year! It doesn’t cost very much because I print out the labels on card stock which are usually already, then I laminate them on the school laminator and then I get a pack of magnetic strips from Walmart for about two dollars. One pack is usually enough to make magnets for my entire class.
#3 Organizing Student Supplies
My 3rdtip is about organizing student supplies. When I first started teaching, I would just tell my kids to leave all your supplies on your desk and I’ll sort through them and have them ready Monday morning. Well then I would spend a good two or three hours that night or the next day opening glue packages and crayon boxes and getting everything the way it was supposed to be.
So I finally gave up that control and now I have a list of things for my students and their parents to look and say “OK I need you to put these things in your students crayon box” and then they put all of their other things in the extra supplies bags. “I want you to pick out two folders in one spiral notebook and put everything else in your extra supplies bag”. It’s not always exactly the way I wanted to be but it saves me a ton of time.
#4: Organizing Community Supplies
My fourth tip is about organizing community supplies that students bring like Kleenex, Germ-X and things like that. I keep boxes and I use the exact same boxes year after year. On meet the teacher night, they stay in the front of their room and they’re clearly labeled with whatever I need my students put in them whether it’s Kleenex or Germ-X, etc. We do community glue sticks, pencils, dry erase markers and highlighters.
So as students are sorting through their supplies, like I said in step three, when they come to something that’s a community supply they take it in sort it at the front of the room. Then at the end of the night I just take that box and I go put it on top of my shelf which is where I store it for the rest of the year and then I’m not transporting back 20 bottles of Germ-X and 100 boxes of Kleenex. It’s super easy and it also kind of gives the students ownership of their new classroom because they already feel like they know where certain things go.
#5 Take Notes
My fifth tip for meet the teacher is about writing down all of the information that you gathered during meet the teacher night because even though it’s not one on one parent conferences, you can gain a lot of really good information for meet the teacher. Parents will just naturally tell you things about their student, so I have a meet the teacher form and notes form that I keep at my desk for during/after meet the teacher night.
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I will just go ahead and print out 22 of them I pre-mark them with all of my students’ names and then anytime there’s a little where there’s no one in my classroom, which is not likely, or after meet the teacher is over, then I go back and I try to bring down all of the things that I learned during meet the teacher night. I also tried to leave myself tips about how do you remember the different families and things they might have told me about. Maybe their student was in speech when they were three but they never had to be in speech in the school system so it’s not documented in our files. I feel like that’s still a very important thing to know, so those are the kind of things that I try to write down and make notes to myself about after meet the teacher because once school starts you’re not going remember.
#6 Be Prepared
My sixth tip about meet the teacher is actually something that you need to do for homework before me the teacher ever starts. On our students’ curriculum files, or there might be another kind of directory at your school for you to look at, our students’ curriculum files have their pictures on it from Kindergarten and Pre-K. I will go through and take pictures of the kids and then I can print it out and attach it to the notes page that I keep for my student records.
I make it my goal to memorize every students’ face and name so that when they come through my door I meet the teacher I can say “Hi Jacob, I’m so looking forward to meeting” you or “Hi Aaron, I’m your new teacher”.
It really has made all the difference to be able to build a relationship with my students the very first time I meet them so that the first day of school maybe there won’t be as nervous maybe it’ll be a little more excited.