Ten Steps to Success
Every school year kicks off with an evening to invite parents and family members to visit their child’s classroom.These open house events are sometimes called Parent’s Night or Curriculum Night. Preparation and planning can make your first or your fortieth classroom open house a successful and fun evening for everyone. Here are ten top tips for success.
1. Clean Your Room
Open House is your opportunity to show off your classroom to parents. Clean your desk and clear the clutter. Make sure student desks are neat and organized. Right or wrong, people will make judgment about your teaching ability based on appearances. A neat and orderly classroom will indicate an organized and effective teacher. Be sure to put any grades or other private papers out of sight.
2. Create a “Welcome to Open House" Sign for Your Classroom Door
Parents can be apprehensive about entering your classroom, even for Open House. Some parents are as nervous as you may be! A sign on the door welcomes parents and lets them know you appreciate their time and attention. This is the day to put your best foot forward.
3. Have Parents Sign In
Prepare a sign-in sheet with plenty of room for multiple phone numbers and email addresses. Although you probably have a copy of this information somewhere, this sheet gives you the most current information on how to reach parents.
4. Display Student Work
Open House usually comes early in the school year, sometime in the first week. The classroom may still be a work-in-progress from your point of view, but remember that this may be the one and only time some family members see it. Showing off your student’s work tells parents that their child is busy and productive in the classroom and that their work is valued. Be sure that every student has at least one work sample displayed.
5. Create a Powerpoint Slideshow
If you have access to computers in your classroom, and most teachers do, a Powerpoint can give parents a window on the classroom beyond the typical Open House speech. Use a digital camera to take student photos during the first days of school. You can either give a presentation showing how the day unfolds, or set up the computers to play the slideshow on repeat so parents can watch it as they explore the room. If you use pictures, be sure every child is included.
More than anything, parents want to know that you are a good teacher who will see their child as a unique individual. They want to know you like their child as a person and that you are committed to their success as a student. Be friendly and smile. It sets the tone for your future interactions with parents.
7. Leave Letters on Desks
Have your students write their family a letter telling what they like about their classroom or school and leave it on their desk the day of Open House. If a student’s family is unable to attend, mail the letter home along with any other information you gave out that evening.
8. Serve Cookies. Everyone likes cookies.
9. Create a Classroom Wish List
An Open House is a great time to let parents know about ways to contribute to their child’s classroom.Tell them about upcoming projects that you may need materials for, or just list general items. Some teachers make a “giving tree" with an item written on each branch so parents can take a reminder home.
10. Thank Families for Coming
Although parents can sometimes bring challenges, they can also be your greatest partner in helping students achieve success. Get to know them. Send a card or email thanking them for attending Open House. Let them know you value them and the commitment they have to their child’s education.