Does your school have an Open House before school starts? Amazingly, after 35 years of teaching, I still get nervous for these things. However, I’ve found if I’m well prepared, I’m not quite as nervous.
I think about what my visitors really want to see when they visit my classroom.
The children want:
- To meet their teacher.
- To see where their desk is.
- To see if they have a friend in the class.
The parents want:
- To meet their child’s teacher.
- To know what sort of things their child will be doing this year.
- To know their child will be safe and happy.
- To get to know a little something about the children.
- To make a positive start with their parents.
- To make sure everyone knows my classroom is a happy, safe place to learn.
Successful Back to School Open House Tips
In my school district, the Open House is shortly before school begins for the year. Everything is clean and shiny and in place. The pencils are sharpened. The bulletin boards are up. The nametags are on the desks, and the names of the children are displayed in a variety of places in a variety of colors all throughout the classroom.
I like to prepare something for the children to do. I’ve used various forms of “scavenger hunts.” These are some examples of tasks I’ve had the children do:
- Choose a book to leave on your desk so you’ll have something to read the first day of school.
- Write one of your favorite things to do on a sticky note. Leave the sticky note on your desk.
- Take a stuffed animal from the shelf and put it on your desk. This guy will keep you company on your first day of school.
I also have a packet for the parents. It’s an introductory letter from me, telling my background, my education, my experience, my philosophy on teaching, and some personal information. I also include a questionnaire about their child, a form for classroom volunteers, a daily schedule with a few words about each subject, and a book order. I’ve learned to write each child’s name on a packet so I can keep track of which parents took their packet, and which I need to send home that first week of school.
I take the same information from my “parent packet” and put it into a Power Point presentation on one side of the room with my presentation system. I set it up so that it keeps cycling through. Not only are they learning something about the teacher and the classroom, it also gives them an idea of some of our technology.
To create the right atmosphere, I want the right kind of music playing when my visitors arrive. I play an assortment of music through the school year, but for Open House, I want to give the feel of a happy place, so I put on upbeat music. You know, the kind of music that makes you smile when you hear it. Some song examples: I Feel Good by James Brown, I’m So Excited by the Pointer Sisters, Here Comes the Sun by the Beatles, or Celebration by Kool and the Gang. I have a couple of CDs with many songs of this quality, and they never fail to put smiles on the faces of visitors in my classroom.
Now that I’ve set up the classroom, I’m ready to greet my guests. I make sure I’m dressed professionally, and I make sure I’m wearing a great big smile. My classroom is a warm, inviting environment, and I make sure the guests see that in my personality as well.
About the Author
Sally DeCost has taught almost every grade between Pre K through 8th grade, but has settled into second grade for the last 12 years. Besides gardening and musical theatre, Sally has a passion for brain research, which she often blogs about on Elementary Matters.