Sunday, August 18, 2013

How NOT To Lose Your Mind at Open House

Open House night can be a back-to-school nightmare.  I teach primarily freshmen, who are in the weird spot between childhood and young adult.  What that means is that, unlike my colleagues who teach upperclassmen, I see lots of parents at open house.  (Score me!)  Unfortunately, I'm terrible at learning new names.  And of course, I have about 100-120 kids per year . . . times 1-4 parents each . . . = a lot of new names.  In addition to the pressure that comes from remembering everyone who comes through, I'm also trying to:

1. handle registration paperwork (lunch forms, medical permission, demographic information, locker fees, etc.) for my 16 advisory students- and

- welcome new students warmly- and

- tell all the people what materials they need for each of my classes- and

- point parents in the direction of Remind101, as well as my classroom Facebook and Pinterest pages- and

- answer parent questions and connect with them.


At least we know Ryan Gosling appreciates us, right y'all?  : )


Needless to say, it can get overwhelming.  When there are 10 people in my room during a 10-minute period, all needing/doing different things, it's nearly impossible to connect with each one of them.  Here's how I structure Open House night to fix help that situation.

1. Set up individual folders for homeroom students.  Inside, I put all the paperwork I need filled out.  I also include a handy checklist, telling them what forms must be returned, what forms are optional, and what is just there for their information.



2. Add a special welcome.  This year, I made little treat bags for each of my advisory students(our version of homeroom).  Roll your eyes if you must, but I like my cheesy-ness.  Cheesyness?  Cheesiness?  Hmmm.


3. Set up multiple materials lists.  Many parents are just there to quickly find out what school supplies they'll need.  They've got places to be, so I'm happy to be accommodating.  I post a list of class materials outside my room, and this one on the board.  I even added a stack of scrap paper and pens so they can write it down.



4. Make it easy for parents to get your contact information. I'm using QR codes posted strategically on my door and around my room.  When scanned with a smartphone, they'll lead parents to a page detailing my school email address, links to my Facebook and Pinterest pages, and my planning time.  Another great (and lower-tech) way to easily pass on contact info: VistaPrint regularly offers deals on business cards-- even as low as free!

5. Add a place for parents to sign in.  I do this because it allows me to have a record of all the parents I spoke with when my memory fails me.  I use this sheet, which I found on Pinterest a few years ago.  It allows parents to leave me with their email or cell number, so that I know how they'd prefer to be contacted.  I can then send out a quick email thanking them for coming-- great way to establish a rapport with parents. 


6. Now that everyone has a place to go when they arrive, I can relax and work the room, answering questions and doin' my thang.  

Open House is tomorrow for me-- what fantastic things are you doing to welcome your kids back?

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