The first weeks back at school are so busy! Back to School night can be hectic, so try setting up stations for a stress-free meet the teacher night. Although I’m calling them “stations,” they are really just invitations to students and parents to engage in some meaningful activities and conversations as they wait to meet and talk with you.
A Welcome slide projected on the screen can include a few lines of instruction, and that’s all that’s needed in terms of directions. A little soft background music always helps relax everyone, too!
Here are five stations you can use at your stress-free meet the teacher night. (Stick around to the end of the post, and you can grab FREE station signs for each of these!)
I’ve gone completely paperless in collecting all kinds of information from my students and parents! I love to use Google Forms for this purpose, so I created these Back to School Digital Forms.
Simply set out iPads or computers and have the Google forms opened up for parents and students to complete. You can collect the same kinds of information you usually collect at the start of the year. Instead of having a stack of forms, you will have spreadsheets that make information so much quicker and easier to access.
If you only do one thing differently this year, I highly recommend setting up this station! Included in the Back to School Digital Forms are (1) a Student Information Form, (2) an About Your Child form, (3) a Technology Survey and (4) a Volunteer Request Form. Learn how you can use Google forms in many other ways throughout the year.
Your classroom displays and bulletin boards can be made instantly interactive by stapling a colored paper to the side with a question. This will encourage students and parents to have conversations as they “read around the room”.
Leave sticky notes and pencils out, and ask students to post responses. This will give you an easy way to start getting to know your students! Keep it to 3-5 stations so families can complete it quickly. Here are some examples:
- Near bookshelves, post the question, “Parents, what’s a favorite book from your elementary years? Students, what kinds of books do you like?”
- If you have a teacher area with some photos and items that give hints about you, add a poster asking, “What can you guess about Mr./Ms. _______ from what you see?”
- If you have a calendar up, add the question, “What is your favorite month and why?” or, for a math challenge, “How many math problems can you think of that will give you today’s date?”
- Add questions to educational posters or displays. For example, near a U.S. map, post the question, “What’s your favorite place that you’ve visited?”
Find Your Seat
Whether you assign seats for the first day or let students choose, you’ll want to help them find their desks at Meet the Teacher Night. Letting each student find his/her desk on Meet the Teacher night helps ensure a smooth arrival on the first day. I like to give students an index card and have them make their own nametags for the beginning of the year. (The kids like it, and it keeps me from having to re-do our permanent name tags when my list changes or the office has names spelled wrong!)
You’ll want to send home some class information for parents, and your school may have specific paperwork you need to send home. I always give out my Back-to-School Flipbook on meet the teacher night. Parents absolutely love it! It’s colorful, fun, and totally editable so it’s easy to customize for your class. You can also hand out Teacher Contact Information Magnets, another hit with parents.
Place all of this information on each student desk, so you’ll know which families have taken one, and who you need to follow up with later.
Library Preview Station
This one is so easy, and it starts to set your classroom up as a place where a love of reading takes priority! On one table or group of desks, set out a selection of books from your classroom library. Add the question, “Which book(s) would you be most likely to pick up and read?” You’ll be able to start getting to know your students as readers right from the start. Check out some of my favorite 5th grade read-aloud books for ideas to include.
Some families prefer to bring supplies on Meet the Teacher Night so they can help their student carry them into your classroom. Designate a place for dropping off these supplies so that they don’t take over the entire classroom!
My favorite way to do this is to set up a supply drop-off station. This station has a paper grocery bag for each student, a few black markers, and plenty of space for parents to sit out their supplies.
Print out instructions on colored paper for each family to take a bag, label it with their child’s name, and place all of their child’s supplies in the bag. You may also wish to have parents place community supplies, such as tissues or hand sanitizer in a separate location, since these tend to fill up the bags and make them heavy.
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These five stations will help you put on a stress-free meet the teacher night. Try all or some in your classroom for an easy prep back to school night this year!