Saturday, July 20, 2019

Getting Ready for Meet the Teacher Night

Most schools have a Meet the Teacher Night before the first day of school. In between getting your classroom ready for the first day, lesson planning, making copies, and attending all those back to school meetings, it can seem overwhelming to even think about how to prepare. But it doesn't need to be that way! I've got some tips for you to make your back to school night a little less stressful - and use the event to cross other things off your to-do list as well!

THE DETAILS: Get Your Paperwork Ready
Meet the Teacher Night is one of the few nights of the year where you will see most, if not all, of your students' families all in one place. This is your chance to get that all-important paperwork filled out by those who attend! As a primary teacher, here are the forms that I absolutely must have before the first day, if at all possible.

Student Information Cards

I use these forms to get basic contact information for my students' families including name, phone number, e-mail, photo release, and after school transportation, among other things. It's a great way to get current, updated contact info in case you need to get ahold of any parents on the first day (it has happened!).

After School Transportation Form

Okay, stick with me here. But the after school transportation form is arguably my MOST IMPORTANT form I need to have parents and guardians fill out before the first day of school. Why? Because you don't know these kids yet. You don't know the parents yet. You don't know where on earth they are supposed to go after school! I can't even tell you how many times I've had one of my kindergarteners tell me they were supposed to ride the bus (newsflash: they weren't, they just wanted to go to their friend's house!) and I was able to use this form to check and make sure they were getting where they needed to go. It's a bad feeling to not know where a student is supposed to go and, more importantly, who they are able to go with. Definitely get parents to fill this out before the first day because some parents don't always bring their kids to the classroom on the first day of school - then you're stuck trying to call or e-mail at some point during an already crazy first day to find that information out. Trust me, it will make your life a lot easier come the end of the day!

Supply List

Your school may have handed your supply list out to parents over the summer. But if not, meet the teacher night is a great place to give families this information. We always make ours a "suggested" supply list as we do not require students to bring in supplies if they are financially unable to. The school usually provides the basics (but we all know teachers supplement and buy supplies with their own money in spades). In giving this supply list to parents at Meet the Teacher night, this gives families the opportunity to bring donated items to you at school on the first day. If you can give them the supply list even earlier than that, then you can have parents bring them in on Meet the Teacher Night, giving you a chance to organize the supplies for student use before they arrive on the first day of school! That is the ideal option there! I put big buckets out for families to put their donated supplies in since I do community supplies in my classroom.

That picture is probably giving you organized people heart palpitations - ha! - you could do smaller buckets and have parents sort the supplies for you, but since the main goal of Meet the Teacher night is to introduce yourself and get to know your students, I don't make this a huge priority.

How Can I Set it all Up?
Okay, now that you've gotten all your paperwork and forms copied and ready, you might be wondering how to set it all up so that parents can easily see the forms and know they need to fill them out that same day.

I fan the papers out on each student desk so that they can clearly see the title of each paper. I also color code them all so there aren't any mix-ups or things missed.

Notice I put the transportation form on top - most important! :)

Putting the papers on top of each student desk is also a nice way to see who you still need to give the paperwork to on the first day if they didn't make it to Meet the Teacher Night.

Next, I clearly label baskets on a table so that parents can turn in their completed paperwork AND it gets sorted for me all at the same time!

If you're interested in using the student information card, transportation form, and supply list for your Meet the Teacher Night, I have editable templates for all three forms in my TPT Store! Just click on the picture below to add them to your back to school resources and you can type your own information in to fit your needs!

While parents are filling out paperwork, it gives you an opportunity to meet and greet with other families who come trickling in so you can greet your new students as soon as they come in. Which brings me to the most important thing about back to school night....

FOCUS: Meeting and Greeting Your Students and Their Families
As nice as it is to get all those extra details lined up and collected and filled out and in buckets and the like... the main point of Meet the Teacher Night is to (wait for it) meet... the... teacher! So even if you aren't able to get forms filled out or supplies donated or the room perfectly cleaned up and ready for the first day, none of that matters as much as making your new students feel welcomed as soon as they walk in the door. Most of the littles are scared and nervous and just greeting them with a little excitement and love helps ease their worries just a little bit. Meet them, smile, ask them their name, introduce yourself. I always make sure to give some sort of encouragement to let them know how glad or lucky I am to have them in my class this year. Forging those initial relationships and first impressions with students and family members can go a long way in starting the year off on a positive note.