Meet the Teacher…. This phrase either fills you with giddy anticipation or it makes your knees quiver from anxiousness. You are keenly aware that your summer vacation has come to an end, your classroom prep time is over, and 18-20+ little darlings and their families are headed your way! What’s a Teacher to do? Prepare to kick off your Meet the Teacher experience with grace under fire.
Be Prepared for Meet the Teacher
Step I Be Organized
Let me re-state that. Be as organized as you can. As Teachers, we typically like to have everything “just so” and ready to go and at our fingertips. Choose an organizational style that is comfortable for you and that you can you can follow or stick to. As Teachers, we often get excited by “all the things”. But, do we really need all of those things? : )
I purchased one of those 7-tiered organizers with the bold colored trays on wheels at the end of last year from a co-worker that was changing professions. It is sitting right next to my Guided Reading table as we speak. Guess what? It is still EMPTY and I have no idea what to put inside of those drawers. It was really pretty and everyone else was buying them and posting about it. So, I had to get one, too, right?
If you are not a labeled trays kind of Teacher, don’t purchase trays. If you KNOW that you are not going to sort everything immediately, don’t spend money on a paper/file sorter. Find what works for you. Don’t be like me. If you don’t know what to put in all of the drawers. Don’t buy an organizer with 80 drawers! Ha ha aha
Ummm…Do You Know How You Are Going Home Today?
Most importantly, be organized for this specific task! What’s the most important information that you can receive during Meet the Teacher? I know that we all can shout this answer. The “T Word”… TRANSPORTATION! Have several different locations for parents to write down where or how their child will go home on the first day of school. I also provide a place for them to tell me about transportation for the rest of the year. What I am seeking the most, however, is what the student will do on the very first day of school since this day will be extremely busy and full of firsts for some students.
I created a post about keeping yourself organized and prepared for the first day of school. I also shared the Dismissal clipboard form that I use and a link to backpack tags that REALLY help me on the first day of school. The backpack tags are also extremely helpful for Substitute Teachers or times when other Teachers or Staff have to help you with dismissal. You can find all the information here.
Create a Place for Collecting School Supplies
I save all of the boxes that my beginning of the year orders arrive in. Saving boxes that copy paper come in is also a great idea. These boxes are usually very sturdy. The only down-side is that they can be fairly small and not very deep. Many Teachers create cute signs with either words or a picture the corresponds with the item and place them on the boxes. This may be helpful for you also.
Honestly, I don’t create signs. In the hustle and bustle of prepping my classroom, I just don’t have the time to do this. I place the boxes out across the front of my classroom. When the fist family comes in, I ask them to get started by placing each of their items in a different box. The rest of the families follow suit as they arrive. This has always worked for me. Parents won’t think less of you if you don’t have signs on your boxes. They simply want to meet you, make sure that you are sane enough to care for their sweet pumpkin, drop of school supplies and complete all of the paperwork. For some families, this practice will be times 2 or 3. So believe me, they are not judging you on your signage. LOL
Decide Where You Will Put All of Your Supplies After Families Bring Them
Making spaces for where all of the items will be stored after you receive them is very helpful, too. Many of my items end up in my garage. My classroom simply doesn’t have the storage space for items like paper towels, tissues, and wipes. I place as many as I can in my room, and the rest have their own corner in my garage. It isn’t necessarily ideal, but it has worked for me. If you have cabinet space or a storage closet at your dispose, use them! Label the spaces so that sorting and staying organized will come with ease. This is also helpful if you have a few parents that are willing to help you put everything away before they leave for the evening.
Step II Know That Your Classroom Does Not Have to be Perfect
Sometimes it is also overwhelming to see our Teacher friends’ classrooms. IG posts and Classroom Reveals can make you feel either a little inadequate, overwhelmed, or like you need to run out and buy more and do more. I, honestly, get to a point where I stop scrolling through my feed on IG (Instagram) during the BTS season. At times, I am slightly disturbed by all of the money that some Teachers are pouring into their classrooms. I realize that it makes us feel good to provide a beautiful space for our students, but I also know that it isn’t necessary in order to provide an amazing learning experience for our students. You can read thoughts that I shared about Instagram Worthy classrooms.
Step III Have All of Your Paperwork and Forms Laid Out
I like to create a flow to how parents complete paperwork. Typing up a one-page letter that has all of the “To Do’s” listed is very beneficial! The final step of the day is always for students to come and give me a hug before they leave. Placing folders with all of the needed student forms on each desk works well for me, too. Forms that parents can read at home are placed inside of the folder. Papers that I need completed prior to their leaving are placed on top of the folder (sometimes clipped to the front).
Here is the letter that I used this year. I usually print it out and give one to each family. This year, I displayed it on my Promethean Board.
Then, I have one table set up for all of the “sign-in” type information goes. On this table, I place transportation sheets (dismissal on the first day of school only and for the remainder of the school year), a volunteer sign-up sheet, a parent email sheet to collect their emails, a food allergy sheet, and a weekly snack sign-up sheet. If you like, you can have a designated place for parents to place any completed paperwork. I discovered that having parents bring the paperwork to be is more helpful. There is this one card that almost every parent forgets to turn over and complete. If they hand it to me directly, I can usually catch this and have them complete and sign it before they leave.
Step IV Be Warm and Inviting
This is your opportunity to not only make a first impression, but this is also the time when relationships are built. Building sound, trusting relationships with your students and their families is a Must Do! Parents are your greatest allies. You need them, and they will need you. Establish the alliance early!
Sidebar: I will say this. Set boundaries for this day. Unless a student has a medical need that you should know about, this is not the time for deep conversations. Have a plan for how you will maneuver around parents that want to tell you “everything that you need to know” about their student. I usually tell parents that I am excited to get to know their student for myself and that I will learn all about them when I begin working with them directly. This response is polite, honest, and sets boundaries in a non-threatening or unprofessional way. Add a sweet smile, and you are all set to go!
Share a Little Piece of Yourself in Some Way
My daughters come to Meet the Teacher with me every year. I love having them with me. Deep down, I think that they really do like to come. They remind me of things that I need to do or say, and they sort the paperwork into categories for me. Truly, the best part of them being there, is having their moral support.
Honestly, it has also helped me with establishing relationships with parents immediately. They get to see my children, see how I interact with my girls, and see how well my daughters behave. This gives them insight into my family and lets them know that they are officially a member of the family, too. It also helps to show that I am a parent, too, and that I have walked in their shoes. To this day, parents of previous students still ask me about my daughters!
Step V Provide a Gift or Treat For Your New Students
This step is most definitely optional, and for me, controversial. Here is a clip from an Instagram story that I recorded while prepping my Student Welcome Gifts.
As you can hear in my video, I’m not so sure about this step. We have already spent a million dollars, that we likely don’t have, on this classroom. Now, you want me to provide a gift?! Whose idea was this originally, and how did the majority of us allow ourselves to be convinced to follow suit?! ha aha aha
Putting my side-eye glance aside… If you are interested in providing a student gift for your students, I created a super affordable gift for my class. I purchased two packs of glow sticks for $1.00 a piece from Michaels. The Glowsticks were my jumping point. From there, I thought of the text and added a graphic that would compliment the text. If you would like to have this as a gift for your students, it is available in the “Freebies” section of my blog.
You are an amazing Educator! You’ve got this! Your Meet the Teacher (or Open House) is going to be FANTABULOUS!!
I would love to hear about your experience! Leave a comment to let me know all about it.