Now that school’s been in session for a few weeks, many districts have a formal invitation for families to come and learn about the nuts and bolts of the classroom. From a broad content overview to classroom management procedures, teachers plan out what they are going to say for the next 30 minutes or so. This is a great opportunity to send a strong message of both professionalism and openness to the families served, so check out these six tips that’ll help you rock the house…figuratively speaking, of course!
Send an invite. At least two weeks prior to the date, send out a personalized invitation or save-the-date to the families welcoming them to come to the open house session. Whether you or your students craft the invite, make it as personal as possible and include a special gift or treat (either with the invitation or to give away at the open house).
Get Students Involved. There should be some student work around the room at this point, but if not, try to coordinate with your specialists to help make something that both showcases what you are learning and allows them to express themselves. By doing so, you’re showing families that your room is a place where their child is a part of the learning process and classroom culture in lieu of being just a number or passive learner.
Preview and print. Whatever presentation you plan on giving, make sure you have enough copies to have at least one per family represented and then a few extra in case some don’t show up or in one of my cases your computer crashes thirty minutes before. Double check for any errors or misinformation and then have a colleague review your presentation as well. Having both ensures you’re prepared for the unexpected, which could very well happen.
Anticipate and redirect when needed. Think about questions caregivers may ask and have answers. Have a way of keeping track of things that you don’t know and ask the administration about them. Make sure caregivers aren’t having mini-conferences during this time as it takes away from the remaining families visiting and it can make things more stressful than it needs to be. Thinking these things through helps to ease stress and to present a competent front to caregivers new to your room.
Reach out. This is most likely the best time to reach out to parents for what you need, so have sign-up sheets at the ready as well as future parent conference time sign-ups too. Some ideas for sign-ups include parent volunteers, chaperones, and special guests.
Take time for you. Usually on open house days teachers stay after school to prepare. Before it begins, be sure to eat something and care for other personal/grooming needs (i.e. restroom break). Once it gets going, you might not be able to leave your room for the next 30 minutes or hour. This does not include any activities you may be requested to do prior to your classroom presentations. Open houses are fun and time-consuming at the same time so it’s easy to forget this in the name of making sure everything’s perfect. It’s always best to put a strong front forward to set the tone for later contact with families during the school year (i.e. parent conferences), and taking care of you helps to do just that.