Friday, October 3, 2014

6 Things I Did to Survive Back to School Night

Sign in Sheet+
Of course, having a sign in sheet is a no-brainer. But this year I added a note in Spanish and English welcoming the parents and kindly letting them know that we wouldn't be able to talk in detail about their child's grade. It's tough to put limits on that, but to me it's the only way to be fair, because otherwise other parents have to wait around too much.

Classroom Scavenger Hunt
I actually got this idea from my daughter's kindergarten teacher. Thank you Mrs. N. I made a scavenger hunt that each student and parent could do together. The hunt involved finding things around the classroom. I teach in a computer lab. Some examples are:

  1. Your seat
  2. The printer
  3. The tray for turning in work
  4. The keyboard-shortcut poster on the wall
  5. The paper cutter
  6. The can of pencils
  7. A specific book in the class library
  8. More.
This turned out to be a lot of fun, and it kept families busy as they came in. Next BTSN, I'm going to hide "easter eggs" around the room to make it even more fun. 

The last thing on the list was, "Your Teacher." This works out beautifully because it creates a "queue" for the teacher without having to actually tell people to wait in a line.

A looping Powerpoint
The PowerPoint had a welcome message and instructions about the scavenger hunt. It looped, and the slides are numbered so parents and students knew if they are walking in on the middle of it.

Light Music
It made for a more upbeat atmosphere and helped keep conversations private. 

A computer that students and parents could use to look at students' grades
I have around 150 students, so printing out grades wasn't an option. Instead, I had a computer workstation ready to go. Student were excited to log in and show their grades (well, not all of them). I do all my grading in School Loop, so it worked out well.

Be Up to Date on Grades
Otherwise, the previous tip would have been silly!

Leave Campus for Dinner!
The day started at 7:30 AM. Classes were over at 3:17 PM. I stayed until four to tidy up, update grades, put out the scavenger hunt and sign in sheet. Then I resisted the temptation to do extra work in the classroom and instead I left campus and had dinner in the neighborhood. It was nice and I felt recharged going back to the classroom for BTSN which started at 5:30 PM and ends at 7.