Open House Do’s and Don’ts

For years I was the one in the front of the classroom – reviewing my syllabus, conference time, and classroom rules at Open House.  Now I am sitting in a desk that is too small for me looking at Open House with new eyes – that of a parent of a middle school child.  Here are my tips from both side of the podium!

At most secondary schools, the parents are going to be in your room for 7-10 minutes max as they follow their student’s schedule – make the most of those minutes! Make a handout with all of the important information, but then don’t just turn around and make a PowerPoint with that same information and read it to them.  Parents want to know the information, but they can read it on their own time.  Instead fill that time with stories: what have the kids been doing so far this year? How did they react? What exciting lessons will you be teaching this year? What can your students look forward to with you as their teacher? Engage your parents! Make them excited that you are their student’s teacher.

Here is a neat idea – make a Kahoot over your syllabus!

In addition to the classroom stories, tell your parents a little bit about yourself. Are you a parent also? Can you relate to having a middle school student? Or a student in the school district? Make yourself as human as possible – start building a positive relationship with your student’s parents.

Share how you are going to engage your students in learning the content with fun games and activities.

I also like to display student work – often it is hard as you haven’t had much of an opportunity to produce work, but your Interactive Student Notebooks make great displays! You can either showcase some from the previous year (and talk about what the kids will be learning in your class) or showcase a few student examples from the current year (just make sure there are no grades written in the notebook.)
This is a great time to showcase your Interactive Student Notebooks!
This is also your perfect opportunity to share your teaching philosophy with your parents.  For years I would do a short mini-lecture and activity on Multiple Intelligences – and share how I truly believed that all kids are smart – just in different ways.  It also allowed me to talk about how we were going to be doing history differently in my class. That I knew students didn’t learn from lecture, and instead we were going to be doing experiential learning. Parents would always come up and thank me afterwards!

Everyone is smart! Just in different ways!
As for the don’ts – Don’t be negative! Don’t stand in the front of the room and complain that there are too many kids in your class. Don’t say that the pacing of the scope and sequence won’t allow you to engage your students. Don’t say that your kids aren’t doing their homework and it is only the 3rdweek of school. Don’t say all the kids are failing your test!  Keep everything positive.  You only have one chance to make a good impression and create partners with parents. Use your time wisely.

Good luck and I hope you have a great Open House!

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