5 Tips to Your Best “Meet the Teacher Day” Ever!
I look forward to student orientation every year! In my district, we call it “Meet the Teacher Day”! It is a 3 hour span the day or two before school starts where students and parents can come in to meet their teacher, tour their classroom, and drop off supplies.
I always enjoy meeting families for the first time, but the stress of having a tour-ready room two days before school starts and the fear of being cornered by intense parents was no joke. I finally got smart about how to run this day and I’ve never looked back.
Here are my top 5 tips for a smooth orientation!
1. Give them a checklist.
Even though I love meeting my new families, there is nothing more awkward then them staring at you waiting for you to tell them what to do and when they can leave.
That’s where the checklist comes in.
I give each family a booklet when the come in. One part of the booklet is a checklist that has them do different things around the room.
Some of the things I have on my checklist are:
- Find the post-it with your name on the board and put it on the desk you would like for the first week.
- Put your supplies on top of your desk.
- Go to the computers set up in the back of the room and have your parent fill out the Google form.
- Visit the iPad and take a selfie with your family (I will use this picture for our writing notebooks or for a “Family Corner” display.
- Choose a spiffy pencil from the tin on my desk and put it with your supplies. I will have it sharpened for you on the first day.
2. Get parent information in the easiest way possible.
I always like to get basic information from my parents on Meet the Teacher Day. I know they give the front office all of their info, but I’ve found that sometimes they will give me different numbers or emails. I ask for the best phone number and email to contact with the class newsletter or behavior updates. I also like to ask some questions about how their child learns best or if they would be interested in volunteering.
In the past, I’ve had forms on desks for them to fill out before they left and sent forms home in an envelope to be returned on the first day. By far, my favorite method though has been using Google forms. I set up a few of our classroom computers or iPads with a simple Google form template and have parents cycle through the station before they leave. At the end of the day, all the replies are in an organized spreadsheet for me!
You could also use a QR code for this an include it on the checklist paper. This isn’t my favorite method beacuse I’ve found that most parents decide to wait until they leave to scan the QR code and fill out the form, and then they forget. With having a Google form station set up, it ensures that everyone who comes will fill it out before they leave.
3. Have a designated area set up for supplies.
I typically don’t do community supplies for everything, so I have students place some supplies on their desk and put others supplies in designated bins. I always label the bins clearly, so they know where to put things. In the past, I’ve also just divided my reading table and had students place supplies in the correct section for me to sort later. In the booklet I give students at the door, I have a list of what supplies should be turned in and what supplies should be put at their desk.
4. Give them something to leave with.
In my experience, I’ve noticed that parents are most likely to leave vs. loiter when they have something in their hand. It makes them feel like they accomplished something more than just dropping off supplies. My families always leave with the booklet mentioned earlier, which not only has the to-do checklist, but facts about me. I also try to have the first class newsletter ready for the parents with dates to remember, contact information, units of study, and reminders.
The kids are easy, I just mention when they walk in that when they complete all the tasks, they get a lollipop on their way out and they are practically begging their parents to go.
5. Have an exit strategy.
I know I laid out some of my exit strategy in step 4, but in addition, I also put a message on my smart board. The message usually says something like: “Welcome! I’m so glad you’re here! Follow the steps in the booklet to get prepared for third grade and then stop by a see me for a treat on your way out!”. This let’s the parents know that I don’t have anything else for them after they’ve done the steps.
However, even with this entire plan, I still have parents linger and want to have a full discussion with me because they took the entire day off of work to be there and they don’t just want to drop and leave. As a parent, I get it. But as a teacher, I know it’s not fair to the other (more timid) parents that also want a second of my time but feel intrusive waiting. So, when I get a parent that won’t leave, I always have another exit strategy in my back pocket that will keep them in the building if they’re not ready to leave, but move them out of the classroom.
Some suggestions are:
- “This year, we’ll earning stickers for our reading notebook. Check out the stickers on the back table and choose one to take with you today!”
- “Have you had a chance to say hi to (music teacher/art teacher/PE teacher) yet? Why don’t you head over and say hello!”
- “This year, we’ll spend a lot of time researching in the library and exploring new fiction series. (Student name), why don’t you take your parent to the library and show them around.”
- “Have you had a chance to check in with the principal/VP yet today? I know they would be excited to see you a get a big hug! They should be in the front office.”
There you have it! My top 5 tips for a fool-proof “Meet the Teacher” with diabolical plans mixed in to ensure that no one family dominates your day.
Set-up has gotten really simple for me since I created an editable pack with everything I use to rock this day. If you’re interested, check it out by clicking one of the themed kits below!
I’m always excited to hear about other orientation tips. How do you make your day a success?
Talk to you soon,