Open House/Curriculum Night

This year we are doing an Open House format for our yearly Curriculum Night (some of you may call it Parent Night).  In the past the parents have followed their child’s schedule, where each class was about 10 minutes long.  I never felt as though I had enough time, they would leave the class before mine late and then get to my class late and I would then have 8 minutes to spew all of the information that I knew they were looking for.  I would do that five times throughout the evening and have little voice or energy left at the end of the night.  This year, at the prompting of a few 8th grade teachers, we decided to try something new and do an Open House format.  This will allow the parents to move freely throughout the school to their child’s teachers.  I like this format because every year the parents said they didn’t have enough time with each teacher to get what they felt they needed/wanted.  Many parents duck out after seeing the one or two classes they really wanted to see or many left early because they just got tired.  I think this format will work well, but I am VERY interested in seeing the comments from the parents afterwards.  The main difference I have seen so far is that the Open House format seems to require more front end work to prepare, but I don’t imagine I will leave as tired and drained as in past years.  We will see…it’s Monday!

Basically I have spent a very large part of my weekend figuring out what I was going to have set up in my room for parents.  I envision smaller “stations” of information that I would have in the past spewed at them and handed out in a packet format. Using my classroom desk set up in 8 groups of 4, I will have the following stations set up (About Me, Procedures/Grading/etc., Example Task and High School Placement information), where each station has two areas set up…so only 4 stations.  I will be the 5th station, should parents want to introduce themselves or talk to me.  My main concern is having the confidence to let a parent know that there are other parents waiting and asking if I could contact them tomorrow to finish our discussion. I have said it a few times to other teachers and it seems easy enough, but in the situation it is so much harder to get out of a conversation and move on to another parent. Since I teach 130 students, it is possible that there will be a lot in my room at one time; I hope that the station format will help because they can visit in any order and can visit a station (or go to another classroom) if there are a few waiting to speak with me.

Let’s walk through my Open House set up (this is also so I can make sure I’ve got it all figured out). 🙂
(On our letter home about it last week, at my request, we did ask that they bring a Smart Device if they had it.)

Outside my room – The document below posted outside my classroom, saw an example on Pinterest but it wasn’t linked to any specific blog.

Entrance – Have a half sheet 2 sided handout that explains what information is at each station and contains a sentence or two about talking with me and courtesy to other parents or something along those lines.  On the back will be more QR Codes with links underneath for those without a smart device.  There will be codes to my Remind101 class signup, set up as a text message to send (there will be 4 on the sheet, one for each math class) and the other code will be to my song that I spent a good part of yesterday creating.  Because I was working on that and not the other million things I had to do, regardless of my lack of ability to sing, I am posting it for you all to hear and it will go home with the parents. It might just be a disaster, but I had fun coming up with the lyrics. I want to create a video for it, or even a powerpoint with the words, but that is last on my to do list for tomorrow.  If it doesn’t get done, at least they get the song.

Projected on my Smartboard – I will have a single file welcoming parents and stating my name and what I teach each period.  I will also have my contact information on this slide for those without a smart device. (My contact information will also be on my main handout)

Station 1 – About Me – I will have a half sheet copied with the same quiz I gave the students all about me. (Idea came from the Middle School Math Wiki – I will have the answers in a QR code taped to the desk or the wall behind this station and a note to have them ask their student (if they don’t have a smart device) because we did it on the second day of school and they should remember the answers.

Station 2 – Procedures/Grading/etc – I couldn’t come up with anything fun/different for this station, so it will be my main syllabus type handout.  Since I don’t hand out a syllabus to my students, this is my main way of communicating information about my classroom to the parents. I will have my example ISN & grading rubric on the desk along with an example graded (with feedback) skills quiz. I will also have out the supplies bin that I provided each group, so they can see it. I think I may make a request for scotch tape at this table too…these ISN’s are going to eat up the tape because students do not have any idea what it means to use a SMALL piece of tape!  There will be a QR code for parents to scan for the document, if they would prefer that method.

Station 3 – Example Task – I want to provide the parents with a window into the world of Common Core tasks and the group work that I expect of their students.  I thought that I would have two different short tasks for them to do, one more in line with my Pre-Algebra (Grade 8 CC) curriculum and one more in line with my Algebra 1 curriculum. It needs to be short and I would like it to be fun.  Do I have any idea what these are yet? NOPE! If you have any suggestions or ideas, please let me know! I will be finalizing this station Monday after school and before 7pm when our Open House starts.

Station 4 – High School Placement Information – Amazingly enough, 8th grade parents want to know about HS placement every year at Curriculum Night.  I will provide them with a flow chart of the HS courses and the placement information along with a reminder of the Explore test days, which is a large part of their placement into HS courses. (We provide HS placements in January, but providing this information now is helpful to the parents)

Station 5 – Me! – I will be standing towards the front of the room, which will allow to me to welcome parents and say goodbye as they leave. And, of course, be available to answer questions and meet parents!

Exit – Socrative Survey – I will have laptops available to complete the survey online or directions so they can complete it on their phone while heading to another classroom.  I will ask Parent Name, Student Name, Parent Email, Did you get the information you were looking for tonight?, If not, what are you interested in hearing more about?, Did you like this format? (A change from previous years), Comments/Suggestions/Questions.

PHEW!! It sounds like a lot, but I really wanted to make it a format where they can get the information they need and want without having to get it directly from me.  We will see how it goes!! Oh and I will definitely have some chocolate candy available as well! 🙂

9 thoughts on “Open House/Curriculum Night

  1. Wow! You sure are organized and prepared. I can’t imagine that the event doesn’t go well with all the work and thought you’ve put into it. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about how it went.

    My advice for you about talkative parents is to just be assertive. It felt uncomfortable for me at first in the same situation, but after you’ve done it a few times, you get used to it. Just be polite and let them know it looks like another parent is waiting to talk with you. Tell them to email or call if they have additional questions, smile, maybe shake hands, and then quickly walk/turn towards the waiting parent. There’s no getting around that some parents will try to hold you hostage. Don’t let them! Sure, they may not be happy they aren’t getting all the time they want with you, but think of how unhappy all the parents are who are watching you talk to just that one parent.

    Good luck and have fun!

    • Thank you thank you!!! Your comment was perfect timing. I needed that reminder on how to move to the next parent. I appreciate you taking the time to read and respond. I’ve got two hours to set up and get ready. I can’t wait to see what the parents say about the night. I will definitely make a follow up post tomorrow. Thanks again!

  2. Here via the 40HTW club – I think the stations idea is awesome, and I’m wondering about the negative parent feedback you mentioned in the above comment. How have you adjusted the way you do Curriculum Night since the original post? I’m an Instructional Coach and my team is doing a “Family Night” the second week of school separately from our traditional Back to School night.

    • Hi!! What is 40HTW? I am glad you found my blog! So after that year, we went back to normal 8-9 min per class so I never adjusted. But if you have two different nights, I definitely think it would be a great idea for the second night after meeting the teacher and getting the regular back to school info out. I would love to see what you come up with.

  3. Hi! I’m also here from 40HTW (40 Hour Teacher Workweek) and your blog was posted in our group to demonstrate a way that Open House can be handled at the secondary level. Thanks for sharing your ideas! I’m sorry that year was rough for you. I’m on a committee at my school and we’re revamping our Open House this year… not sure that there is any way to do it that will make everyone happy lol. We’ve done about every different configuration that there is during my 30 years of teaching and there are pros/cons for all of them. 🙂

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