How to Get Through Back to School Night in Style

Even the most experienced teachers get butterflies for Back to School Night.  Part of it is because of the excitement of a new school year, and part of it is being just a bit nervous to face a class full of fresh, eager...parents.  But never fear, here are a few simple hacks that will turn you into a BTS pro in no time!

Do you need ideas for back to school night for teachers? These tips will have your back to school night routine running smooth!

How to Get Through Back to School Night in Style

1.  Think about BTS from day one.

Trust me, Back to School Night will sneak up on you no matter how many years you've been teaching.  All of a sudden, it's show time!  A very simple preparation tip is to be thinking about your classroom environment and student work from day one.  Regardless of the subject you teach, curate student projects that will work well as classroom decor for the big night.  And I don't mean dull art projects, I mean meaningful personal work and core content that will clearly demonstrate to parents what your class is all about.  Let your student's work communicate to the parent for you.

2.  Give a good parent handout.

An excellent BTS handout is a thing of beauty.  Clear, concise, and informative, it answers your parents' questions before they even need to ask.  Provide information about:
  • Your class scope, sequence, and pacing
  • Materials needed
  • Your homework policy
  • Your grading structure and policies, including tests, class participation, and homework
  • Big projects and how parents can participate or support these projects
  • Your personal contact policies; how parents should contact, when you are available to meet, and guidelines for response time.  It is a good idea to be honest with parents about texting, email response (Are you going to check during the school day?), and evening and weekend contact.  Set clear boundaries from the beginning.
Do you need ideas for back to school night for teachers? These tips will have your back to school night routine running smooth!

3.  Consider "flipping" your class.

Flipping a class is providing instruction to your class through curriculum or videos BEFORE the class meets to discuss the topic.  One way to allow parents to prepare for BTS and relieve stress at the same time is to flip your informational packet.  This packet is crucial to parent preparation and communication!  It can be overwhelming for them to read the packet, listen to the teacher present, and process both sets of information at the same time.  Have you had that experience during your own children's Back to School Nights?  Flipping the packet gives parents an opportunity to read, fully process, and formulate their questions about the important information about your class prior to BTS night.

4.  Keep your presentation short and sweet.

When I'm nervous I tend to babble.  The thing is, your whole Back to School period is maybe an hour long.  If your school has parents switch classrooms through Back to School Night, then you have about 8-10 minutes.  Build on and clarify your course information, introduce yourself a bit as a human and a teacher, and wrap it up.  This will allow parents plenty of time to ask questions and explore the classroom.

5.  Think about the mood.

An effective way to take excessive attention off you is to have a lovely classroom environment for parents to look around and mingle with each other.  Prepare a slide show of pictures of students working during the beginning of the school year, or even have them make videos for their parents on BTS night.  There are many ways to take the pressure off you and celebrate your students and families at the same time.

6.  Plan something fun!

This is the best part of Back to School Night!  Have students prepare something special for their parents.  For example, they can write a letter welcoming parents to class, and point out items of interest they should look at during BTS.  There are many other, more content specific projects students can do as well, depending on your subject.  If you need to fill a little time, you can also have parents respond to their children with a note of their own, a drawing, or even a video greeting to be seen the next day.  These kinds of activities give all the good feels and leave everyone with warm-fuzzies for your classroom and respect for your awesome organization.

Do you need ideas for back to school night for teachers? These tips will have your back to school night routine running smooth!

It is natural to feel a little nervous about and overwhelmed by Back to School Night.  Chances are, you will continue to have butterflies as the years go by, and that is okay.  Choose an organized approach and modify it from year to year to keep it fresh, and roll with the punches.  You will have a recipe for success that will set a positive tone with your class parents for the year to come.