How to ROCK Your Classroom Open House / Back to School Night [episode 22]

classroom-open-house

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With school just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what your classroom open house is going to look like. As I’ve learned, every district and school calls it something different, but it all means the same thing – meeting the teacher for the first time and scoping out the classroom before the first day of school. 

For this episode, I’ve compiled my own tips, along with YOUR tips from various social media platforms to create the content for this episode. So in today’s episode, I’m sharing 10 steps to rock your classroom open house or back to school night.

Having a classroom open house is a great way to accomplish a lot of goals for the beginning of the school year and start to connect and make relationships with your students and their parents. While this idea might seem overwhelming and stressful, it’s a great way to start the school year off right, even before the first day of school. The 10 steps I share are:

  1. Always start by thinking of the end result you want to achieve
  2. Decide the setup and flow that you want to utilize
  3. Make a plan to invite parents and get families showing up
  4. Get setup before the parents and students arrive
  5. Greet each family and make them feel welcome
  6. Go over rules, procedures, and expectations in your classroom, as well as your teaching philosophy
  7. Try and chat with each student’s parents and introduce yourself
  8. Have a wish list for donations
  9. Include a special treat or gift (optional)
  10. Have fun

A lot happens throughout the school year, so it’s important to begin the year on the right foot, and a way to do that is through a classroom open house or back to school night. Whatever your district calls this type of event, by incorporating these 10 steps, it will leave you rocking your classroom open house and your students ready to be a part of your classroom community.

In this episode on rocking your classroom open house, I discuss:

  • 10 steps to having a successful classroom open house
  • Why it’s important to make a positive connection with parents
  • A way to get your students comfortable in your classroom before the first day
  • How thinking about your end result determines your steps to get there

Resources mentioned:

Related episodes and blog posts:

Connect with Kelsey:

Read the transcript for episode 22, How to ROCK Your Classroom Open House/ Back to School Night:

Hey, hey, my teacher friend. I am so happy to be here with you today in my little podcast studio, which is a closet turn podcast studio. It is my happy place my favorite place to be to be recording an episode for you. I just love this. Like I’ve said before, it’s really one of my favorite parts of doing Wife Teacher Mommy right now I’m just I’m loving it so much hope you are too. I’m diving right in today friends. Today we are going to be talking about how to rock your classroom open house or back to school night or meet the teacher, whatever you call it, I realized there are a lot of names for it. And people call it different things. There’s even curriculum nights and all that. Whatever it is, I will be sharing tips for my team and I but also so many teachers from our community. I asked in our Wife Teacher Mommy club, a Facebook group, our Wife Teacher Mommies Unite Facebook group, Instagram, at @wifeteachermommy, and our Facebook page, Wife Teacher Mommy, to get lots of amazing tips from teachers just like you and I’ve compiled it all together in this episode for you. But also, as I’ll share even more details at the end of this episode, I’ve set up a new inbox for podcast listeners, where you can record a short video or voice clip for me. So I can share my listeners responses in your own voices. Because while I do know a lot about teaching, as you know, I’ve been teaching, subbing, homeschooling, I’ve been doing Wife Teacher Mommy for eight years now. We create lots of curriculum and so many different subjects here at Wife Teacher Mommy, I still don’t know everything there is to know about teaching. And I haven’t done everything that all of you listening, the hundreds of you listening to this podcast are doing. There are so many amazing educators in our community who have great tips to share. And I want to use the platform we’ve built here at Wife Teacher Mommy to share your insight as well. So be sure to tune in until the end of this episode to learn more about how you can be featured on the podcast and even have a little conversation with me too.

So today, I have taken these tips and I’ve synthesized them together, you know how we teach? Well, if you teach upper elementary, we teach them to kind of synthesize the info together kind of weave in from different places weave in your own content. That’s really what I’ve done here today, the content that’s been submitted by your community and my own tips I have for you. And I’ve created 10 steps that will help you rock your back to school night open house or meet the teacher. So I’m going to dive right in. So number one, and you’ll probably guess this one is for me. And if you’ve been listening to the podcast very long, this won’t surprise you. But number one is always start by thinking about the end result you want to achieve. Okay, so we’re thinking about our results here. We’re starting from what we want to achieve and planning backwards. So think about your ultimate goal for your back to school night. And if you remember Wife Teacher Mommy club, and you’ve done our coaching, you definitely need to know this. But in our coaching in the club, we’d like to look backwards and see what results we want to get and go from there. And the thought model we use in our coaching that was created by Brooke Castillo, she’s the member of The Life Coach School and who are coaches are certified by Chrissy’s current coach. We may have other coaches in the future. I’m actually hoping to get certified myself at some point, but the thought model it goes C T F A R. So first is your circumstance. And then your thought, and then your feeling, and then your action and then your result. And now we’re not getting into this in this podcast about how exactly that works. But the end part is results right? That’s what we’re looking for. So whatever your biggest goal for your back to school, let us think about it. Right write it down, make it big at the top of the page that you’re using to plan, doodle around it, etc. Whatever you can do to keep this big goal top of mind. So you can make sure everything you plan is serving you, the parents and the result you want to achieve. So likely you want to create a warm relationship with the parents and students before the school year starts. You might also have goals to get donations, you might want to set your expectations what is the big most important thing? And you obviously want to do a few different things. But what are the most important things about your back to school night? Think about those. And Jennifer B. shared an awesome tip. She is one of our club members. She shared this in the group. She said, “We do an open house before school starts. The purpose is so students know who their teacher is and where their room is, before the first day.” See that she has the purpose very first. So then from there she says, “It is free flowing so that the parents with multiple students can visit all the classrooms during the two hour window, and make sure there are some activities placed for students to do with each other: Legos, pattern block puzzles, etc. Students can also store any supplies they have brought for the new year into the label bins on our meeting rug. Parents spend their time completing the GET TO KNOW YOU forms and to answer any easy questions that parents have any more detailed questions, I set up a parent teacher conference for the first week of school.” And see how she set that expectation ahead of time about how she’s going to handle a situation before seeing them again. “About a month later, we have a curriculum night and we go over expectations, scope and sequence second grade projects, grading and answer any questions that come up in the first few weeks.” So see how she has dialed this in. She knows what she’s doing ahead of time. That is what I want you to do, I want you to think about the result you achieve.

And then the second step like Jennifer’s comment kind of goes into this second step too. So that is now that you know the main goal for your open house, it is time to decide the setup and flow that you want to utilize. So is it going to be fully casual free flowing kind of like Jennifer’s? Or do you want there to be time for a presentation where people will sit and listen to you talk about expectations? Are people supposed to come and go as they please? Or should they be there for that certain part. Decide on the flow that will work for you to get those results you’re wanting to achieve. So take step one, those results you want to achieve and then create step two, the main flow of how you’re going to do it. And here are what some of our readers said. So Ray Patrice on Instagram says, “Be flexible and have a system make it run itself because if you get talking to a parent, I’ve had several who want to go over medical or IEP what works doesn’t during the open house, you don’t want other families to be stuck waiting. I tried to number the steps and go around the room with forms, dropping supplies, setting up Dojo etc. And of course something for the students to do so they aren’t just standing around bored.” And then Stephanie P from Facebook or Facebook page, she said, “We do an open house as well. We are free flowing so kiddos parents can see the classroom and meet the teacher. They usually bring supplies as well. I usually have my introduction letter, class procedures and welcome something on each desk, have each parent sign in and include email for communication.” And then Ashely C from our Wife Teacher Mommy club group, she says, “Our school does an open house but this is my first year with this district. So I’m excited to hear your ideas and this podcast. I’m so glad she also said something I’ve seen before but haven’t had the chance to try it out is having bins buckets milk crates labeled with school supplies with the families can just drop them off in the different crates. They do the organizing for you.” I love that. Then Jennifer Smith and the club group replied to her comment and said, “I put out large labeled laundry baskets for parents to place supplies.” And you know I love seeing your cub community have conversations and supporting each other. And with that, we’ll be right back after a short break.

I am interrupting this episode for just a moment because while I love recording episodes for you on the podcast and supporting you in this way, I would be even more excited for the opportunity to support you on an even more personal level, all school year long inside Wife Teacher Mommy club. It is the signature experience that my team and I have created to help you live your best teacher life. Here are what some of our members have had to say. “It was worth it for me to join the wife, teacher mommy club, because I know the quality of the content that I’m getting, not purchasing something and then regretting my purchase after work.” “It’s always available. And it lets me try new things. If I want to try something that I’ve been looking at and haven’t had time to buy or add the extra money, I can do it now.” “The monthly fee is less than most of the actual resources are so you’re paying less for your monthly payment than you would for even individual items.” “I am spending way less time on TV T I’ll be able to go to one place, be able to find search for whatever resource I’m looking for. And I already paid for it.” “So the only thing I would like to tell you that I haven’t told you already is why haven’t you joined yet. Just make an investment in yourself, make an investment in your time.” To learn more about the club and all that it has to offer, go to wifeteachermommyclub.com. I’d love to see you there. Now let’s get back to the show.

Okay, number three, make a plan to invite parents and get families showing up. So a great way to do this is to have a parent letter that you send home to let them know and mail it, so they get it. But even better if you can do phone calls, if possible. And I love what reader read_Whitney on Instagram had to say. She said. “Connect with every family to introduce yourself via phone if at all possible and invite them to open house. This opens the communication line and doors to homeschool partnership and helps families feel connected to you. Often families have questions or personal things they’re wanting to ask and share that they wouldn’t be willing to do in a crowded setting.” And that is a great way this phone call to be able to address those things. So again, other people mentioned during the open house, you don’t wanna leave other families waiting, so a phone call could be a great way to do that. And the same as the forms you can leave out as well.

Okay, so number four, is get set up before the parents arrive. So organize and clean your classroom before they get here. Obviously, give your students and families time to explore the classroom and get comfortable, make sure it’s how it will be when the students get there. So label the desks, backpack hooks cubbies, however, they will be when the students come on day one, and that students find or choose their seat during the open house. And here is another tip from a reader Carrie A. She says, “I type out some key bullet points and put on a clipboard to cover with parents. So she does Parent Teacher communication take home folder, classroom procedure for behavior and expectations. I then give parents time to ask questions. I usually set up a table with a sign in sheet and soft breath mints. In addition next to it. I put a tree on the student desk at I have curriculums spread out on a table so parents can flip through it. And I love the little bright touches, she adds that the breath mints in addition next to the sign in sheet and the treat on the student desk and having curriculum there for parents to look through and feel comfortable. I think these things just add a great special touch to that open house.

So now number five, greet each family and make them feel welcome. And this is circling back kind of to what we talked about with inviting each parent ahead of time, make a big deal that they follow through and they came they show up. We’re so excited about that. Right? So greet them personally, make sure they know that you were so happy they came. It’s an opportunity to start a great relationship between you as the teacher and the students parents. And I’ve said this a lot and especially I was on the Okayest Moms podcast Brittany and Heather. From Okayest Moms podcast, they asked me to come on their show as a voice for teachers to help parents know how they can create a great relationship with their teachers starting at the beginning of the year. So definitely check out that episode if you want to hear what parents have been asking about teachers as well. But basically what I gleaned from doing that, and that experience is that we really are on the same page parents and teachers, we want the kids to learn and have a great school experience. And as a parent myself, I can attest to that too. And as well as many of you our podcast, especially being called Wife Teacher Mommy attracts many parents, we all want our kids to have a great education and we want to create good relationships with parent and teacher. So greeting them and making them feel welcome is really key. And then just fostering that great relationship. And give them the chance to address any questions or concerns or things that they want you to know about their child. And a questionnaire like we talked about before is a great way to do that. Or if you’re able to either do a phone call or let the parents know the best way to do that. Lisa S one of our readers, she said, “During our back to school night, I asked parents if there is anything they really do not want their kid checking out from the class library. I started because I had a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses and parents were very against anything pertaining to witches and wizards. This was my way of letting parents have a say but only for their child. I explain that they will not be removing them from the library is other people may like them. But I will defer to their wishes for what their child can meet.” And I think just knowing things like that, or you know, accommodations a child may need or just things that they should know, a teacher might want to know, give the parents an opportunity to tell you those things. It’ll make them feel more comfortable, it’ll make you feel more comfortable, it will foster a great relationship. And whether that’s through questionnaire or letting them know how to contact you after or if you set aside time to talk to each one that is again up to you and how you want to set up your back to school.

Okay, number six is go over rules, procedures and expectations in your classroom as well as your teaching philosophy. So a great way to do this is with a flip book where you can have a lot of those rules, procedures, expectations, you can even have it so that the kids can like you know have the materials at their desk and they can put it together and they already have those on there. You can do a slideshow and go through those. Again, that can be more formal if you want to have a slideshow going and you kind of go through those things and have a discussion In that way, and that is if you have it a little more formal rather than free flowing again, it depends on your goals with the open house. Now I’m going to share what Amber O had to say. So she said, “I have steps placed around my room for all the things they need to do. For each of those events, we have orientation. And in September an open house So Amber just like Jennifer earlier in the episode, they have two different ones. A PowerPoint is usually going to let them learn about me see past activities that my students do and so on. I usually have a special treat for both students, usually a piece of candy or eraser and parents of water and bag of chips. I have a trifold of information about the class signing up for Dojo all about my child paper. Plus, the school provides paperwork too. An open house have a classroom scavenger hunt, with sight words placed around the room, so I know that they went there and did the activity to get this secret password. Parents also sign up for conference dates and times at Open House.” And then another great tip. This is from Aloha Monday Teaching on Facebook, she said, “When I taught elementary school, I had a scavenger hunt for the kids to complete at meet the teacher night. That way they can become familiar with the class. Some of their tasks included choosing a desk and Cubby and writing something on the I wonder wall. I’m in middle school now science and our meet the teacher is also curriculum night. So hers is all in one, I made sure to share my teaching philosophy with the parents, which is in the form of an acrostic. I want them to know that family and our partnership is important. I also let them know that I put kids first they appreciate that. And it helps us during the school year when we’re on the same side.” And her acrostic is Aloha, which is perfect. And I don’t have the image pulled up. But I remember it was a great little acrostic you could create one based on your own teaching philosophy. And maybe even like a fun theme you have in your classroom. Like if you’re doing camping this year, you could create one with the letters from camp or something. Okay. And then another thing to just remember with going over that is building those relationships start on the right foot. Right, that’s probably why we’re doing this. But also, when you set those expectations, be ready to follow through with them during the school year, because as we’ve talked about actions speak louder than words. So if you say like I am not going to answer emails, after this time, like I’m these are my office hours. But then if you start responding to emails outside of that time, you are sending the message that those office hours aren’t actually real thing. So make sure any expectations or boundaries that you set during the open house be prepared and ready to follow through with them during the school year. And honestly when you do that it actually builds respect that you do what you say you’re going to do. So I just thought that was a very important thing to mention as we’re talking about procedures and expectations as well.

Okay, number seven is try to chat with each student’s parents and introduce yourself remember isn’t a conference, just a quick, warm conversation. So even if you’re not able to have like a full long conversation, make sure to go up to each one. And Unlocking Learning on Instagram says, “Be prepared, have something to keep the parents and students busy and engaged, circulate make sure to see each family shake their hands and make eye contact.” I feel like that is so important. You know, we have to remember you know, as humans, we like connection, we like eye contact all those things. They’re little things but they’re very important.

Number eight is have a wish list for donations, let the parents help you. And I think a lot of us already do this at our open houses but I really just think it’s such a great way to get those things that you need for your classroom. Rachel M says, “I have Helping Hands Mickey Mouse shaped pans with different classroom items written on them that parents can pick up and purchase and sent in with her child that week after open house. It can also be done virtually with a helping hand slide. And she gets things like dry erase markers, pencils, crayons, Lysol, Clorox wipes, Kleenex tissues, everyday needs, like cooking right now and need to be replenished almost daily or weekly.” And Jennifer S says, “I know teachers who write a wish list I don’t want to post it note, and parents can peel one off and send in the item. I’m creating an Amazon wishlist this year because I’m moving to a new grade level and need specific toys, puzzles, books, etc.” And I think Amazon is always a great idea because you know a lot of parents use it is really easy that can be shipped right to you. I think that’s a fabulous idea.

And number nine is obviously optional, but it’s including a special touch a treat or gift. So as mentioned, like Kelly, she included those minutes, that was a nice special touch by the sign in sheet. A lot of teachers mentioned that they had like a treat for kittens on their desk, or a water bottle bag of chips for the parents just having some sort of special thing that they get for coming in makes them feel special. And we have those in our open house resource, which I’ll talk about in just a second too.

Number 10 final tip is have fun. You know your students are nervous and excited for the upcoming school year and you probably are too right. Remember you started this open house though by looking at the results you wanted to achieve from this open house if you follow the steps outlined in this episode. That means you already did everything possible to make this night a success. So from there like once the night has started, it’s time to just have fun and naturally since you kind of head you’ll start building those relationships, setting those expectations and whatever other results you’re hoping to achieve from this special night with the students and parents. So it’s not time to stress because you already put in the work and you can truly be present and enjoy the experience. And another thing to remember is not to stress if you don’t know an answer either. I love what one of our wife teacher mommy Facebook commenters had to say. And this was Samantha P, on our Facebook page. She said, “As a still fairly new teacher, don’t be afraid to say you don’t know the answer to a question. But we’ll find out and let them know, just make sure you follow through with it.”

So I feel like you know, those are the main 10 things we’re going over. And I just have one final quote that I loved from one of our readers, and she’s actually one of our club members who will be on the podcast next week as a special guest. So this is Najah, Najah Lambert, she’s going to be on the podcast next week. And she says, “She is excited to try a scavenger hunt this year, a lot of people talked about that. She said that requires involvement for both students and family. But aside from that, just breathe and know they’re as excited and as nervous is you as well. This is your classroom. So sell it, the more excited and enthusiastic you are about your class and the upcoming school here, the more your kiddos and families will be as well. Hmm. And a little gift is nice, something themed.” And I love what she had to say there. And like I mentioned, she’s going to be on the podcast. So if you haven’t already, if you’re not driving, take your phone out right now and hit that subscribe button on your favorite podcast player. Because I don’t want you to miss this episode next week because it’s going to be that good. And I told her when I was interviewing her that she should seriously start her own podcast because she was such a natural and she has a huge vision for making mentorship for new teachers even better, so stay tuned for that.

Back to the topic at hand. If you are a Club member like Najah, be sure to download our open house resource. It has tips for your back to school open house simple one pager everything in it is covered in this episode, but it’s nice to have just one pager of tips has a parent letter template with a ready to go letter that you can edit as needed. It has a meet the teacher handout template with information about you about favorites Fun Facts our class stay connected. There’s also a version that says teachers if you need it to be plural, there’s a cute welcome banner to make the classroom even more warm and welcoming the sign in sheet we have a cute little apples for donations setup. We have a flipbook template for your information about your class rules, homework expectations, student info pages, a student questionnaire, a parent questionnaire, a newsletter template that you can start with during your open house and continue to use throughout the school year has a volunteer signup sheet for state of grade level signs. It has an amazing classroom scavenger hunt that’s ready to go and has an editable version too, if you would like to change it up, and it has a sticker, a badge a card for a water bottle or candy bar. So if you want to have it more ready to go for you have a lot of these things we’ve talked about today finished and just printing go. I will link to this resource in the show notes. So you can download it for free when you are logged in as a Wife Teacher Mommy club member. And remember, we also have that amazing request section for members. So if there are even more resources you want to see make sure to put in their request there. My team and I are constantly checking that. If you’re not a member, of course, as always feel free to join us it’s so much fun. Or if you click on the link to the resource it’s also available for individual purchase most of our resources besides the club exclusives can be purchased individually as well if you don’t want to commit to the club, basically our members all of the add to cart buttons in our shop just turn into download button. So everything in our shop becomes free for all when you’re a member.

Okay, so I hope you’ve learned a lot about hosting an open house back to school night meet the teacher during this episode, my team and I want to make it super easy for you and our community just had so much knowledge and experience to share. So it was just really inspiring putting together this episode. So let me recap quick the 10 things we talked about. So first, always start by thinking about the end result you want to achieve. Number two, now that you know the main goal for the open house, it’s time to design the setup and the flow that you want to utilize. Number three, make a plan to invite parents and get families showing up. Number four, get set up before parents arrive. Number five, greet each family and make them feel welcome. Number six. Go over rules, procedures and expectations in your classroom and even your teaching philosophy. Number seven, try to chat with each student’s parents and introduce yourself remember isn’t a conference just a quick warm conversation. Number eight have a wish list for donations let the parents help you. Number nine optional but including a special touch like a tree or gift can be awesome. Number 10. Have fun. Your students are nervous and excited. You probably are too but you already did the work. You’ve already thought about the results. And it’s all ready to go. So just be present and have fun and build those relationships. It’ll come naturally once you’ve done the work ahead of time. And a bonus if you’re a member, be sure to download that resource who mentioned or is also available for individual purchase. That’s the link in the show notes.

This episode was a blast to put together I loved quoting so many of our readers and I want to do this even more and in fact, I would love to actually hear you too. So, if you’re listening to this podcast, you know, you get to hear me and I would love for it to be more of a two way street so I can share some of your tips and your own voices on the show. So I would love if you would leave me a voice message, you can ask me really any question you have, you can let me know what you would like to hear on the podcast. But also, I plan to do a two episode series, like I mentioned at the beginning addressing the gaps in education. First, the ever widening educational gaps. What are teachers doing? What are you finding to be helpful with these educational gaps? Let me know send me a message Tell me. Number two, the social skills gaps we’re hearing from so many teachers that social skills are lacking, and it is leading to more behavior problems than ever. So what are you seeing are you seeing that trend too? And what are you doing about it? What how are you combating it? I would love to hear about it. And to take that a step further. What are you doing to teach social emotional learning in the classroom, or your home school to help kids develop these skills? And our episode five pillars of social emotional learning, which is episode number four has been one of our most popular episodes, so be sure to check it out if you haven’t, but I want to deliver more content about social emotional learning, and specifically what is working well currently for teachers and homeschool parents to teach those skills and have it help any of those gaps that your children or your students are currently seeing with social emotional learning. So please share your experience with me. Leave me a voice memo, go to wtmpodcastinbox.com. wtmpodcastinbox.com Or go to the link in the shownotes I will personally send you a response if you send me a message I promise. I love talking to you via this podcast. But you know, a lot of podcasts I listen to I feel like I know the host so well. And yet they don’t know me specifically. They know like, you know, a lot of what I want to hear and everything because I feel like they’re speaking directly to me, but I actually do, I would love to speak directly with you. So be sure to do that. If you would feel comfortable. If you do feel more comfortable writing in response, you can DM me on Instagram, at @wifeteachermommy, or send an email to hello@wifeteachermommy.com. Now stay tuned and watch our emails and social media as well as we have a gigantic giveaway. Like it’s huge, you do not want to miss it, and an amazing growing bundle coming out at the end of August. If you’re not on our email list, make sure to go to wife, teacher mommy.com and get on there so you don’t miss any of it. And then I will see you here next time for an interview with Najah Lambert and we will be talking all about surviving and thriving as a new teacher and her big vision and the 10 steps she created for amazing teacher mentorship programs. And even if you aren’t a brand new teacher, there will be something for you to help you survive and thrive at any stage in your career, or your time as a homeschool parent as well. So I will talk to you then.

More about Wife Teacher Mommy: The Podcast

Being an educator is beyond a full-time job. Whether you’re a teacher or a homeschool parent, the everyday to-do list is endless. Between lesson planning, grading, meetings, and actually teaching, it probably feels impossible to show up for your students without dropping the ball in other areas of your life.

Wife Teacher Mommy: The Podcast is the show that will bring you the teacher tips, practical strategies, and inspiration that you need to relieve the stress and overwhelm of your day-to-day. Your host, Kelsey Sorenson, is a former teacher and substitute turned homeschool mom. Tune in weekly to hear Kelsey and her guests cheer you on and help you thrive as a wife, teacher, and mommy. Because with a little support and community, you can do it all. For access to every single Wife Teacher Mommy resource, join the club at www.wifeteachermommy.com/club.

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