Back-to-school night basics
Make the most of back-to-school night. It's a valuable opportunity to learn important information about your child's classroom experience.
What's different about a middle or high school back-to-school night?
Parents visit all the classes in their child's schedule in a mini-version of the child's day. This can be an eye-opener for parents who don't realize how much territory a middle school or high student has to cover in the course of a day.
Some students have classes that are only a semester long and will get a new set of teachers in the spring. Plan to attend the spring semester "meet-the-teachers" night, if your school has one.
By Marian Wilde
Along with shopping for school supplies and adopting earlier bedtimes, back-to-school night is an important ritual marking the beginning of the new school year. On this night, your child's teacher explains her goals for the class and for your child. She shares information about her teaching style and methodology, how she grades and the requirements for a good grade. You'll find out what supplies your child will need for the year and what projects are coming up.
Your child's teacher might be a little nervous about meeting all the parents, even if she's done this 20 times before. Arrive with a friendly smile and introduce yourself. If you know each other already, say hello and refresh her memory as to your name and who your child is. She meets lots of parents throughout the year and may not remember your name, although she may recognize your face.
Schools will often start with a general meeting in the auditorium and a brief welcome by the principal. Then parents separate to visit their child's classroom.
Six Steps to a Successful Back-to-School Night
1. Find out if you can bring the kids.
Your school's administration may have a no-children policy for back-to-school night, believing that parents should be free to focus on meeting the teacher and listening to his presentation. However, more and more schools recognize that arranging for childcare, getting the kids home and then returning to school is challenging for parents, and have started to offer childcare at the school for the evening. Be sure to find out what your school's policy is and make the necessary arrangements.
2. Devise a strategy if you need to visit more than one child's classroom.
If you have more than one child at the school, you'll need to strategize. If your older child has already had the teacher that your younger child now has, you might decide that visiting your older child's teacher is the priority for the evening. If both parents are able to attend, you can divide and conquer or take turns in the different classrooms.
3. Bring a pen and paper.
Brenda Lofton, 2006 Louisiana Teacher of the Year and a middle school math and science teacher recommends coming prepared to take notes: "If the teacher says you can contact me and these are my conference hours, you need to write down that information. Also, teachers may give information through a Power Point presentation or maybe something written on the board. So bring something to take notes with."
"I usually go over homework procedures, discipline procedures, the different things that are expected and then give parents time to ask questions," says Lofton.