We all know how important it is to make allies of our parents. Getting parents on-side and inviting them into a partnership can make a significant difference to the education of their children, and teachers who use “parent power” to their best advantage become far more effective as teachers. So Open House is a really good opportunity to start off that process and really get to know your parents.
It's not easy to juggle all the tasks of a teacher at the best of times, but it seems doubly more difficult at the start of the school year, when the children are new and there seems to be so much to do to get everything just so. So here are a few tips for a successful Open House:
Send out personal invitations in advance. You could get the children to design and make their own, or if time is short, you could get them printed up - Vistaprint is great for this.
Dress professionally and take care with perfume and aftershave - for obvious reasons..
Prepare your room. Hang a welcome sign up outside and make sure there are no empty walls - parents love looking at photographs and displays of children's work almost as much as children love showing it off..
Greet each parent with a smile and a handshake. Make sure each parent has a name tag (Matthew's Dad; Alice's Mam etc).
Have a tray of refreshments to hand (taking care to think about dietary requirements and cultural differences).
Ask parents to write down one or two questions. At the end, you could read out a few of the most frequently asked and answer them. Parents can be contacted after Open House with answers to more specific questions.
Have your activities prepared well in advance, and make sure all the materials and resources you need are to hand.
Prepare a presentation. Share something about yourself, and aim to give parents all the information they need about your class.
To help with this last point, why not prepare a Powerpoint slideshow that you can play on a loop during Open House. I have loved designing a whole range of slideshows to match classroom themes that you can see over at my blog. They are guaranteed to not only save you oodles of time and effort, but save your voice too... There are birds, owls, giraffes, snake/jungle, zebras and schoolkids, although my personal favourites have to be the pirates, carnival and cheerleaders/team spirit. I can't wait to start working on the next one!
Have a great Open House - and be sure to let me know how it goes..