Put Your Best Foot Forward!

Your first interaction with parents has to be a positive one! They may have heard through the ‘grapevine’ of other parents, teachers or students the kind of teacher you are. firstimpressionYour job is to confirm their already positive opinion of you or to win them over despite what they’ve heard. In reality, Open House may be the only time you have parents for face-to-face communication – make the best of it!

Open House/Meet the Teacher Night is the perfect place to start.  To ensure things go smoothly, begin getting ready for open house before school starts. Once pre-planning begins there are other things that will compete for your attention, so start early!

Put together an informational packet for parents that also has a questionnaire. Include questions about parent expectations for the year, things that have worked well/haven’t worked well in past years, what mode of communication they prefer, do they have skills/interests that could enrich your class. Parents are more than willing to give you information about their student. By asking, you are letting parents know that you too are interested in their success.

Put together a class handbook, include portions of the school handbook but add classroom specific information. studenthandbookInclude a bit of personal information about yourself so you create affinity with parents. Brag a bit on your qualifications; it is reassuring for parents to know that the teacher likes school and continues to learn and hone their craft. Let parents know what you will be doing to ensure the safety of their student. 

If you have an open house where you are expected to make a presentation, use pictures from the previous year of engaging lessons, classroom activities, lunch and the playground for a presentation. Video students talking about something they are studying. Include slides that spell out the class expectations.

Let parents know that they can expect you to communicate with them. Talk about your newsletter and what kind of information it will include. I’ve found that a newsletter every 2 weeks is plenty. If you send it each week, it just becomes noise and unimportant. If you send it with graded classwork, it’s more likely to be read.

An innovative idea that I’m intending on starting this coming school year is an electronic newsletter via QRC code. My hope is to pass out a QRC code at Open House for parents to scan, then update it with newsletter items for them to read. I’m not even sure if that exists but some version of it might!

In general, parents want to be involved in their student’s education. Have a list of in-class and out of class jobs they could do. Give parents an index card with a few questions they can ask their student after the first day of school.  firstdayFor example; What was the best part of the day?; Was there anything that was hard/challenging?; What was easy?’; What are you looking forward to this year?.



All in all, parents want to know several things that you can address at the open house:

  • Parents want to know that you expect their student to be successful. Tell parents how you plan to accomplish that very goal.
  • Parents want to know the important things. Be organized and prepared! Rehearse what you will say to parents at open house. Don’t waste their time.
  • Parents want to know how they can help. Give suggestions on how they can volunteer both in and out of the classroom.






Back To Class!

Well, it’s been a year since “Teacher, teacher!” has been up and running. A lot has happened in that year. I moved and changed jobs! I went back to the classroom, 4th grade more specifically. I decided to take a break from posting and focus on teaching (it has been 16 years since I was in the classroom as a teacher)! backtoclassIt was a successful year and I am eager to get back at it; both school and posting.


I hope you will find my posts both informative and helpful. Feel free to use any of the information or ideas you find here. I will be posting helpful hints, lessons I’ve learned, successes and failures, recipes, and humorous stories.

Stay tuned!


How to Make a Difference in the Classroom

What is a teacher’s job?  Educating students is the simple answer. But shepherding a child through an understanding of subject matter isn’t simple.  If that’s accomplished, and you stop there, you are doing a disservice to your students.  Taking it to the next level can be daunting, exhausting, and demanding, but it’s the route to making a difference in the classroom.   

Once there’s a basic mastery of the subject, students must be taught how to apply content to their world.  Young learners typically take facts at face value, and haven’t yet learned to question, probe, and expand their viewpoint.  The teacher’s job now becomes more than shepherd — it’s sherpa — leading the learner into new encounters, broader perspectives, and unchartered paths.  

How do you do this effectively?  First, it’s important to help students identify their learning style.  Provide different activities for the same learning objective and typically they’ll move toward their preferred style.  If not, you can assign a range of activities and assess their success with that particular style.

Second, explore techniques with your students that build connections. Teach them how to study and investigate their world. For example, remember when you were a student, and you’d think “When will I ever use this?”  As a teacher, every lesson plan should have that question answered before you begin teaching it.  If you can articulate real-world applications for the facts you are sharing, your students will more readily understand and more quickly make the knowledge their own. 

In time, as students begin to own their learning and see school as a doorway to the world outside, you will spark their imaginations and curiosity.  The student who learns how to learn is the student that become self-sufficient and accelerates beyond their baseline. This objective is the teacher’s real job, and the key to making a difference in the classroom.