When parents walk in, you want them to be paying attention and listening to all of the important information you’re sharing with them. If you leave the packets on students’ desks, they’ll be distracted by it throughout your entire time with them.
Beforehand, give your students time to complete a handout that specifically states their goals for the year.
Make sure students know they will be accountable for these goals. Share a copy of these with their parents and ask for their support at home to help their children meet these goals. Then, at parent-teacher conferences, bring out the goal sheet again and discuss the progress students have made. Of course, there should be check-in’s with students before the conferences to see if their goals need to be adjusted or perhaps, new ones made. (We like sharing these goal sheets with parents at Back to School Night to make it clear that it truly does take a village … students, parents, and teacher(s) all need to be on the same page and the same team!) You may want to create your own goal-setting sheets, or you can grab our resource here, which also includes a way to keep track of all of your students’ goal-setting data!
It is NOT the night for individual parent-teacher conferences.
Make it clear that you cannot meet with parents to discuss how Johnny has done the first few days/weeks of 5th grade. At the end of your presentation, pass out all of your contact info and ask that parents reach out to you via email if they have additional questions. (Better yet, have them ask their children for the information or have their kids ask you – depending on the grade you teach. It’s important for kids to start advocating for themselves – their parents can’t follow them throughout their whole school career asking them about homework policies!)
Ask for classroom donations!
If there are items you need for your classroom, don’t be shy to ask parents for them. They are often willing to help if possible. At one Back to School Night, we let parents know we were in desperate need of new bookshelves for our classroom library. Before the night was over, one set of parents had pledged to order us a new set and another father came later in the week and assembled them for us! While obviously it depends on the financial situation of your families if they can help out or not, it doesn’t always need to be items that are purchased. One mom looking for volunteer hours, helped me sort and organize the entire math curriculum for that year (it was a program that required A LOT of prep before the year got too underway). Her afternoon of assistance was priceless! Our point is, just ask for help! After all, you are a classroom community and it shows students that everyone is invested in their well-being.