Open House!

My school district starts pretty late in the year...the first week of September! Here are some things that I do to make Meet the Teacher/Open House run smoothly!

1. Get parent emails
I leave a laptop right outside the door on a desk so that the parents line up to put in their email addresses directly onto a spreadsheet. I LOVE email, I sometimes feel like I am spamming these poor parents sometimes (but they always say they appreciate it, so who knows!). I notice it works best to place my laptop on a desk right outside the door, because the parents see a line of other parents and immediately get in line to type in their email. In the past, I have put it right up front on my podium/projector before, but they never see it with the herds of parents/kids in my room and I end up not getting many email addresses. I like to add all the emails I get onto a distribution list and send an email out right after Open House simply thanking the parents and directing them to my teacher Twitter page. Opening up that line of communication right from the start puts parents at ease.

2. Student names
I don't write up name tags on Open House. I place a piece of paper (as shown above) at each seat that says the students' name on it that it says on my class roster. It also says "Welcome to my classroom! Many students go by nicknames. What would you like to be called this year?". I have gotten some weird nicknames that even catch the parents by surprise.... but I love the ownership it gives students. The world of nicknames is their oyster! I teach at a gifted magnet center, and third-grade is the first year at the school for the kids. Sometimes the kids "reinvent" themselves by giving themselves a nickname or more mature name that they always wanted.

3. Supplies
Many parents bring in supplies during Open House. I just have them place the supplies next to the students' desk... a big chunk of our first day of school is dedicated to organizing supplies (besides the community building, of course!). My first year of teaching I decided to organize all the supplies myself... well by 6 pm I was sitting on the floor crying while opening glue stickers. Never. Again. Giving students more responsibility and trusting them how to figure out how to open a glue stick/crayon/colored pencil package works wonders. Of course you'll have kids who loudly will exclaim "I CAN'T OPEN THIS!" But it allows other students to rise to the occasion and  help those students out, showing teamwork and caring. It's a good indicator on the first day which kids already are showing leadership skills.

4. Scavenger Hunt 

I never, ever want a student to leave on Open House without saying good-bye to me first, those last moments make such a difference. On my scavenger hunt you can see that I specifically mention handing me their green "Interesting Fact" card. This ensures that the student and I have some sort of interaction when they leave. Simply putting down "say good-bye to me!" makes it easier for students to sneak out or figure that there are too many students/parents around me and leave.

5. Google Forms 
I email parents that same night with a Google Form (since the parents that came directly put their emails into my computer, which allows me to quickly prepare a distribution list!). This Google Form has all the basics... name, phone number, child's interests, etc. This way I keep it safe all year long! There are no loose papers that I need to shuffle through to call home... everything is safe and sound in a nice online spreadsheet that I can pull up at school or at home.

What do you do for Open House? Do you have any ideas that you think work great? I would LOVE to hear them, I am always on the lookout for ideas to make my classroom run smoothly :-)

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