My baby girl is now a middle schooler – how did that happen so fast??? My husband and I attended our first Open House at the Middle School – very different than Elementary School Open Houses where you meet only one teacher. As I was sitting through 9 different presentations in the mom mindset, it got me thinking about what parents really want to hear from teachers . . . .
7 Ideas for Winning Over Parents at Open House
Instead of beginning with your typical presentation . . .
Speak for 30 seconds to a minute in the target language. Yes, we want to hear what you sound like! Give parents a taste of what it’s like to be a student in your class. If you do this, they’ll be sure to remember your class at the end of the night.
Instead of speaking in a professional, business-like voice . . .
Let your true voice and effervescent personality shine through. Language teachers are fun and spunky and parents love seeing this side of you. Play music in the target language as they enter the room.
(Now I know that Open House is a long, long day and that you’re tired by the time they arrive, but this is your moment to shine. Do what you need to do to get pumped up: coffee, dark chocolate, etc.).
Instead of passing out a boring handout . . .
Add fun fonts, borders, and a cartoon to your notes. For cartoons, try some Calvin and Hobbes in Spanish – so funny! I add these to the bottom of most of my quizzes and tests, too, because they make the test taking experience a little less tense. The students love them!
Instead of only talking about curriculum and grading . . .
Spend 1 minute telling us more about yourself. Where did you go to school? Why did you decide to teach? What do you like to do when you’re not teaching? Do you have a family – any kids or pets?
Instead of showing a presentation with grammatical and capitalization errors . . .
Check everything that you will be showing or handing out to the parents. 7 out of 9 of the presentations that we saw had mistakes. As a parent, it doesn’t give you a lot of confidence when the teacher makes mistakes that your kids shouldn’t be making.
After you check over your work, exchange with another teacher and double-check each other’s presentations. Fresh eyes will catch more errors.
Instead of talking about boring grading policies . . .
Put all that information in a handout, and go over it fairly quickly. Spend more time telling us what a typical day or week in class might be like.
Instead of listing the topics that you will be covering this year . . .
Share the passion that you have for whatever it is you’re teaching. Tell us what you’re most excited to teach this year and how you’re going to get our kids excited, too. (Again, this is another moment to shine and differentiate yourself from the other teachers.)
Instead of hanging up decorations in your classroom . . .
Have students write something that can be displayed in your classroom (if you’re lucky enough to have one). Parents love to see work that their child has done and it shows parents that students are learning something in class. During the last minute or two, let the parents walk around and find their child’s work. This will give you a chance to talk to those parents who want to introduce themselves or ask questions.
Get a free All About Me template in the Free Resource Library. The library is always free (25+ resources) – sign up below. Works perfectly as a project for posting for Back to School Night!
Hope these tips help you rock your Open House and win over the parents!
Would love to hear your Back to School Night ideas in the comments section of this post.
RobynSeptember 11, 2018 at 5:29 pm
I wish I could use these. Our open house is in October and is basically a string of 5 minute conversations with individual parents; we don’t do presentations, etc. The expectation is that we discuss grades, expectations of the course, and any concerns with the parents. It’s basically parent/teacher conferences except they aren’t long enough to really mean much.
Sherry SebestaAugust 30, 2019 at 8:48 am
That’s crazy and not super helpful for anyone. Do you show student work samples? Parents always like to see that. Most parents don’t care so much about the class expectations, but want to know about how their child is doing.
Kim VigilAugust 22, 2019 at 5:52 am
I love these suggestions! I’m returning to work after a year long maternity leave and this makes me look forward to our open house night! Thanks for sharing!
Sherry SebestaAugust 22, 2019 at 8:46 am
Aww! That make me so happy to hear that they were helpful. 🙂 And yes – Open House Night should be fun – a chance for you to shine and share your passion for teaching. Wishing you a wonderful year back. ~Sherry
GinaAugust 29, 2019 at 7:24 pm
thanks for the ideas. I have to do a mini-lesson for my parents, so I’m trying to think of ways to use the target language with parents in a way that will be engaging but not stressful. Any ideas?
Sherry SebestaAugust 30, 2019 at 8:46 am
Yes – what about having them play Simón dice and use gestures to communicate what they should be doing. You could teach a few body parts and then play the game and add in a few more as you go along, depending on how they’re doing. Or teach them something basic like numbers 1-6 and then hand out dice and have them practice rolling the dice and saying the numbers.
Monica AbramsSeptember 1, 2019 at 1:29 pm
I have the students teach their parents how to introduce themselves to me in the target language (Spanish for me). Just good evening, my name is …. Parents love it, they are nervous but see that they can ask their children to teach them what they learned each day in class. You can give students extra credit points if you’d like.
Sherry SebestaApril 13, 2021 at 1:47 pm
Great idea, Monica! Thx for sharing!
Lady TSeptember 25, 2019 at 5:59 pm
Great, quite helpful.
Evagelia LyrasOctober 2, 2019 at 11:44 pm
I also have the students teach their parents how to greet me in the target language. I also have the current story cards on the board and share w the parents to ask their kid to recite the story for them.
Sherry SebestaApril 13, 2021 at 1:46 pm
Love that idea! Thanks for sharing!
Ssñorita PSeptember 3, 2020 at 9:54 am
Our presentation is supposed to be pre-recorded this year due to the pandemic, 10-15 minutes of just talking into the camera. I teach elementary Spanish and they are not divided by language level, but instead by grades so I have many native students along with children who have never had a language class. The native parents are super judgmental to the point of being cruel sometimes because they say it is too easy for their kids (even though they can’t read and write in Spanish yet), or not necessary bc they already can speak Spanish (but don’t know about other Spanish cultures other than their own yet), they do not like that I teach Castilian Spanish because a lot of families are from Mexico, or that I am not qualified to teach Spanish because I am white lady with blonde hair (I am Latina and Spanish, which both descents have white skin, and my hair is dyed blonde)…etc. Any advice on how to handle/impress the native parents while being mindful of the beginners’ parents, without having to defend my heritage – all while just talking to myself in a recording…would be very appreciated!
Barbara DeemerSeptember 8, 2021 at 11:02 am
Thank you so much for these tips! We are having a Parent Night this week and I really wasn’t sure what would be the best approach. I really appreciate these tips and insights. It’s been a long time since I was the parent of a middle-schooler!
Sherry SebestaSeptember 8, 2021 at 5:48 pm
So happy to hear that you found these Back to School tips helpful. Wishing you a wonderful year of teaching!