You’ve worked in your classroom during your summer break. It’s a beautiful blank slate with bulletin boards waiting to be filled with student work and desks waiting to seat your smiling, eager students. They likely will be a bit nervous about meeting their new teacher.
Most teachers get butterflies in their stomachs, too. You want your students and parents to like you. You want to assure the parents that their children will be in good hands this year. You want them to go away feeling confident that you will be a great teacher for their child.
One way to do that is for your Meet the Teacher event to be successful. You want it to be professional and interactive. But you’ve already spent a ton of money on your classroom! You’ve probably bought classroom décor sets. Maybe you’ve invested in flexible seating and new rugs. You’ve purchased school supplies and books. I totally get it, my teacher friends. I’ve been there. You’ve already spent a ton of money!
I want to ease your pocketbook AND help you host your most successful Meet the Teacher night ever. Everything described in this article is yours for free! Everything is simple to implement, yet will make a great impression on your new students and parents. Just click on any picture in this article, and it will take you to the download. But don’t go too soon! Read the whole article for tips on how to plan and set up your best Meet-the-Teacher event ever.
Here is how I host my Meet the Teacher night, so everyone goes home with a smile on his face and a heart filled with optimism about the coming year.
1. Sign-In Sheet
Place a sign-in sheet just inside your door. Place a sign above it inviting parents and guests to sign in. It should be bright, cheerful and, most of all, inviting. Be sure to include two or three sheets to accommodate many guests.
2. Welcome Sign
Use your small group instruction table as your command central. Above the table, hang a welcome sign printed on brightly colored paper. You can hang it from the ceiling with paper lanterns, streamers or ribbons hanging down, or by itself. Any of these ways will create an inviting way to draw attention to the area.
3. Goodie Bags
On your table, place a small goodie bag of popcorn or goldfish for each student. Decorate it with each student’s name by stapling a cute tag to the sack or tying it with a ribbon. Personalizing each tag with the student’s name is easy in the fully editable, free download. Then, watch the smiles as you hand your new students goodie bags with their own names on them.
4. Meet the Teacher Brochure
Also on the table place a stack of Meet the Teacher brochures. Personalizing your brochure by inserting your photo will help you begin to make that personal connection that you want with your students and parents. The fully editable, free brochure has places for your to edit, so you don’t have to start from scratch. For a bit of humor, some back to school riddles are located on the back of the brochure.
5. Student Name Plates
A name plate for each student can be placed on your table. It’s easy to pre-print your students’ names if you have your class list. If not, simply print blank name plates. Provide a black marker and parents or students can write the child’s name. By placing the name tags on the table, students can choose their own desk for the first day.
Here’s a great tip for classroom management during the first week of school: During class, as you are walking among your students’ desks, carry a self-inking stamp with you. Stamp students’ name plates as a positive affirmation that they are on task and following directions.
Your students love collecting as many stamps as possible throughout the day. At the end of the day, they take their name plate home to share with their parents. Place a new name tag on each desk every day of the first week, or until you know the names of all your students.
6. Student Information Forms
Place a blank Student Information Form on each student’s desk prior to your Meet the Teacher Even. This is also a good place for any school or district notices that need to be filled out. I encourage parents to fill them out while they are there to ensure that they all get turned in. Remind parents to turn in the completed forms before they leave.
At the end of the event, you will be able to tell just by glancing at the desks which students were not able to attend. Their forms will be waiting on their desks the next day so they can take them home to their parents.
7. How We Go Home Form
This is one of the most important forms to get filled out! Even in upper elementary, there’s nothing worse than realizing on the first day of school that you forgot to find out how one of your students goes home. I’ve had this happen to me, and found myself scrambling before the end of the day to contact parents or the office for dismissal instructions.
8. Wish Tree
It seems that school budgets are cut more each year. Most parents want to help with needed supplies. Having a wish list will let parent know what your needs are. I use a wish list to help supply many of the lower priced consumable items students will use throughout the year, such as sticky notes, extra pencils, hand sanitizer, Kleenex, Clorox Wipes, and plastic bags.
9. PowerPoint Presentation
Meet the Teacher night is usually an open-house style, where parents are visiting their different children’s classrooms throughout the evening. I like to play a repeating welcome PowerPoint presentation on my screen that plays in the background. It creates a warm and cozy atmosphere and is always a hit. The cute PowerPoint presentation in your free download is short and easy to edit to include your own images. As an added bonus, you can show this same presentation on the first day of school, stopping after each slide. Students can pair and share with an elbow buddy about their favorites.
10. Background Music
Music should be gentle, soft, and quiet. You can create a playlist or simply put on a bit of Beethoven. Choose music that is relaxing, so people will feel free to linger.
Greet each parent and each student individually. Give them a warm handshake and a smile, and they’ll feel right at home. Soon, those butterflies will leave, and you’ll feel confident about starting the new year!