“What do you do to make Open House a success?”
I always dreaded open house days because I never knew what to expect and I could only imagine that many parents felt the same way. Many parents felt like it was a waste of time so I needed to figure out a way to make this time valuable to both myself and the parents.
First I had to ask myself what I would like to happen. Why did I feel it was important to meet the parents and get to know them? Becoming aware of the purpose was vital to giving me a mindset and positive attitude for the event. If I felt like it was a waste of time, I’m sure my feelings and body language would show this to others.
Then I call all of the parents a week ahead of time to personally invite them to open house. I share with them why I think it is important for them to come. I try to be positive and excited which encourages many to show up. Many parents with children who have disabilities have become frustrated and discouraged with the education system so this is a chance for me to show them encouragement and a sense of teamwork that will help their child be more successful in the classroom. I also ask them to bring their child with them when they come.
I have each desk labeled with the student’s name on it. When parents arrive I tell them to go ahead and find their child’s desk. If I’m meeting with other parents, they are welcome to sit in the desk or anywhere else around the room. During the school year, I collect student work that I feel parents would enjoy seeing. I also save test papers. When Open House comes, I have a folder for each student that shows their good work and tests with good grades on them. Parents who are waiting to see me can look at their child’s folder while they wait. This helps put them in a good mood when I eventually talk to them.
When I sit with the parents, I like to tell them a short bio about myself so they can get to know me too. I explain that we will be working as a team to help their child. I also review contact information that I have for them to make sure it is all correct. I also share ways that they can get in touch with me. I feel communication is the most important thing between us to help their child.
I like to ask parents if there is anything special they would like their child to work on or if there are any problems that I should be aware of. I think getting their input helps this meeting be more interactive rather than just listening to me which makes the conversation one way.
Just having a short time to meet and build a rapport with parents is essential to future success for my students and for me.
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).
Original image: 'Shaking Hands'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/25945304@N00/1234618279 by: Aidan Jones