Dust off your teacher wardrobe and paste on your biggest smile because it’s time for some Back to School Night activities! If you’re a veteran teacher you know the drill well. This is a night of meeting and orienting the adults that raise those cute faces that fill your classroom. If you’re a new teacher, this night can bring a lot of jitters. Not to worry! Seasoned vet or fresh and new, this post will give you some great ideas for Back to School/Meet the Teacher Night.
Back to School night can be very different depending on how your school structures it for parents. In some schools Back to School Night is more of a hop from one classroom to the next at your own pace situation. At others there are blocks of time for each teacher so they can present information to parents all at once. Check with members of your team to learn how yours is structured and use the following tips in a way that works for you and your school.
Back to School Night Activities: Goals
First, let’s set goals for the night. What do you want the adults that visit your classroom to leave with? What information will they have left with you to make the first days of school run smoothly? You’re definitely going to want the following information.
Knowing these basic pieces of information will be so helpful when beginning your year. Some teachers send home questionnaires with parents but I’ve found that getting them back isn’t always easy. Gathering this information while adults are physically in your classroom guarantees you’ll have it when you need it
Back to School Night Activities: The Set-Up
One of the expectations of Meet the Teacher or Back to School Night is that you’ll form connections with the families of your students. Just like in class, getting one-on-one time requires everyone else to know what to do and being able to do it independently. Setting up stations around your class can make this easy to accomplish.
Station 1: Fun Activity for Kids
Have a station dedicated to an activity that kids can do on their own. This will keep them occupied while you talk to the adults. Keep in mind that some families bring along younger/older siblings to each classroom. Some good ideas that appeal to a wide range of ages are coloring pages, manipulatives like pattern blocks, or legos.
Station 2: Sign In
With the kids busy, adults can now focus on completing their sign-in sheet. This is the short form I give them that asks for all the information mentioned above. Remember that part of Back to School Night is making everyone feel welcome in your classroom. Having copies of each form in the languages that are commonly spoken by the population serves you in this mission.
Station 3: Supply Drop
If possible, ask adults to bring in supplies during your Back to School Night activites. It makes the first day of school SO MUCH less chaotic. Create signs telling adults or students where to put everything and you’ll have organized piles created for you!
Station 4: Digital Check-In
This is a station I ALWAYS include in my Back to School Night. Getting caretakers connected to whatever online portal your school uses is important and can be a big hurdle for some. At this station post the directions for how to download any necessary apps and have login information ready. Help any families that are struggling to connect and quickly show them how to use the app. Most education portals have instructions ready to print in multiple languages. Make sure to have options available depending on your population.
Station 5: Take Homes
This station is a good place to give parents a folder with all the information they’ll need for the year. These folders can include an About Me page, class rules, procedures, and login information for any online portals you use. Including a more detailed questionnaire in these take-home folders for adults to fill out at their convenience can be a great way to gather more detailed information on your students. This can include information like goals for the year, academic expectations, and likes/dislikes.
Many teachers in our Facebook group suggest giving out small gifts to students to get them excited for the first day. The gifts aren’t required but add a sense of excitement to a day that makes so many kids nervous. One teacher said, “I give students a back to school gift which is a QR code of me reading a story, jitter glitter (to put under their pillow the night before school), and a snack with a cute card attached.” What a fantastic idea!
Here are some more ideas from teachers in our community.
- Supplies like bookmarks, erasers, or pencils that match your class theme
- A friendship bracelet to create a sense of family on the first day
- Small snacks with cute sayings welcoming them to their new grade
- A glow-in-the-dark star to hang from their bedroom ceiling to make a first day of school wish on
Back to School Night Activities
Don’t let Back to School or Meet the Teacher Night psyche you out. Remember, keep the big goals of this night in mind to ensure that your families are getting everything they need.
Looking for more back to school prep ideas? Check out this post for some practical ways to set yourself up for a smooth transition into a new school year.
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