Here are some pics of some student work I had up for the parents to see.
This "The Many Pieces of Me" Activity is available in my Tpt store, Here.
1) Incentives! Sometimes parent participation is lower at my school than we would hope for. When I was first teaching, I remember an OH that totaled 8 people....including myself! Sad. Very sad.
Some easy "tricks" that just might get your families through the door are:
No homework passes: Free, easy, and the kids love em'. If their parent shows up, they will have a No Homework Pass on their desk the next day.
The promise of food and drink: In the past, I have offered juice boxes, small bottles of water, and plates of cookies. I like the "party" type atmosphere it created. However, the last couple of years, I have been reluctant to do this because of so many food allergies. So, proceed with caution here.
Open House Raffles: I normally start OH with a Scavenger Hunt. The kids take their parents through the classroom and show them the important work and systems that we have created in our room. It takes up the first 10-15 minutes while we are waiting for families to file in. After the students complete the last task on the Scavenger Hunt, they are directed to bring their completed "hunt" to me. I, in turn, gave them a raffle ticket.
In the past, I have raffled-off gift cards to Toys-R-Us, and had almost 100% attendance! Gift cards were anywhere from $15-$20 dollars. I know, I know...that is just us spending more of our own money. But, to me, it was worth it, because it gave me a chance to clearly communicate my expectations to parents right from the beginning of the year.
However, this year, my budget was tight, because as you might remember, I decided to do a classroom mini-makeover. So, this time, I still gave kids tickets, but held the raffle the next day, with the prize being something from my Treasure Chest. Results? The kids were still very happy! My wallet was also very happy.
This is a pic of the Scavenger Hunt (right). It's not fancy. But, you get the idea. (Update 2015: I use the most adorable, EDITABLE, and FREE one, from 3 Teacher Chicks! Check it out here.)
First dibs at Conference sign-up: My colleague does this and the parents love it. She prints out conference sign-up sheets for our Parent-Teacher Conferences to be held in September, and lets parents who attend OH have first crack at their preferred dates/times. She has little slips of paper where the parent can write down their date/time and take it home with them. I didn't do this on Thursday, but will definitely try to do it next year. (Update 2015: Here is how I did this!)
My parents love being able to sign up for conferences right at Open House! Here is a cute Conference Reminder Slip FREEBIE for you. Click below to download.
2) Babysitting! The last two years, a classified school employee has taken all of of the kids next door to watch a movie during the teacher presentation portion of OH. This year, she had some 60 kiddos in there. But, it works BEAUTIFULLY! It is so nice to be able to discuss standards, procedures, homework, etc... in a quiet, distraction-free, room.
At our school, grade levels all choose different nights for OH. That way, parents are not forced to choose which class to visit. If your school does this as well, maybe you and your grade level can babysit for another grade level, who is having their OH on a different night. They can then return the favor on your night.
You can make this work. You just might have to get creative.
3) Don't get trapped! Don't get me wrong. I love parents who want to know how their child is doing. But, I think we can all agree that OH is not the time, or place, to discuss this. I give myself an "out" by printing up a quick Conference Request sign-up sheet and posting it in the room. That way, if a parent starts to make personal inquiries, I can just direct them over to the sign-in sheet.
Just a note. Make sure you have parent permission before you make your video. At our school, a Photo/Video permission form is included in their first day packet. This year, I only had one child whose parent has asked that their child not be photographed.
5) Make OH Prep easy! I have all my OH sign-in sheets, parent flyers, ideas, in one folder on my desktop. Most years, all I have to do is change a date on a document and I am ready!
One thing that has been a real life-saver is my OH Powerpoint. It is my agenda, and I use it to make sure I cover everything. I have included my PPT below. I did not create the background or style. But, someone was nice enough to share it, and now I will pass it on. I do have duplicate slides translated into Spanish. But, I left the download completely editable. So, add and delete away. Hopefully, it will be helpful to someone. FYI: It has all of its original pages. The slides I don't use are just at the end after the "Thanks for Coming" slide. (If you would like a copy, leave your email in a comment below, and I will send it to you. If you want to keep your email private, click on the "Contact Me" form at the top right of my blog!)
6) Ask for Help: I discovered this system for asking for classroom donations from my daughter's Kindergarten teacher many years ago. My daughter is in 6th grade this year. But, I still use this great poster to ask parents to help out with things that we will need all year long.
(Update 2015: The newest version of this chart is shown below. I tape a small mirror to the chart to ask for volunteers for the classroom. Then, I just clip a Volunteer Sign-Up Sheet right next to it!)
7) Update 8/7/14: One last thing! I made this Open House/Back to School Night Parent Flip Book to share with my parents. I LOVE it! I like that they will have all this information in one place!
Great news! I have made this book EDITABLE, and it is now available in my store for grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5! Click on any of the images to find out more.
Here is how my flip book turned out. First, I shared a little about me.
Then, I included all the ELA and Math Common Core Standards for 2nd grade.
Then, I included a detailed schedule for our classroom.
I chose a General Information page for my 4th tab!
Finally, I chose to put a letter template at the end. I haven't decided whether students will write a letter to their parents, or if parents will write a letter to their child, rip it off, and then leave it on their child's desk for the next day.
Looking for more back-to-school ideas and inspiration? Follow me on Pinterest!
Ok, well that's all I can think of for now. I hope you all have a wonderful new school year.
Until next time,