My Top 5 Tips for Open House Night Ideas

Open House can be stressful for teachers.  I don't know about you, but we have our Open House Night around the 5th week of school, on a Thursday. Think of it this way:  your students are still getting to know your expectations and you're still getting a feel for the group dynamic.  Your stamina is back after the beginning of the year exhaustion, but then suddenly you have to stay late in the middle of the week.  You have heard stories about "those parents" and although you're very used to speaking to a room of children, adults are a different ballgame.  Yup, stressful.

So how do you make your Open House Night preparation easier, and better your chances of success the evening of?

My Top 5 Tips to a Successful Open House Night

1.  Think about materials that parents don't usually get to see.  Along with work on bulletin boards, think about the in-class materials students interact with regularly.  For example, there have been some years that I never send home the math textbook for homework; only the workbook.  Or maybe you hold back journals or writing folders.  If the kids are using it weekly the parents will benefit from getting to see it.  This will not only help conversations such as "What did you do in school today?" flow a little easier, it will also help parents understand later on if you refer to those items on the progress report.  Organize what you want to say, and provide handouts.  I know some people like to go paperless, but I always give presenters a better grade if they provide handouts (even if it's like Whose Line and the points don't matter).  You can see how I organize my own handouts on this product description page for my Open House Night Packet.  
3.  Have a blank copy of the report card to hand out.  Write "SAMPLE" across it if you like, but it's important for parents to know what is expected of their child at the very beginning.  Finding out about it after it's been assessed can feel frustrating for the person being graded as well as their parents.

4.  Feed them.  Popcorn, mints, or other "no prep" finger foods are easy for you and is always a nice ice breaker when you "have guests over."

5.  Have an "official" sign up sheet for parents who want to discuss their child's progress.  There's one in every crowd.  Even though the principal reminds parents that Open House Night is different from Conference Night, parents are naturally more interested in THEIR CHILD than they are in YOUR CURRICULUM.  Don't try to fight it; acknowledge it, but have that sheet ready.  Adhering to the idea that Open House is not the same as a conference shows your respect for the time of other parents in the room and protect the privacy of the children.  It also shows parents that not only are you available but you've anticipated their needs if you are ready to make appointments then and there.  And honestly, when I do this, I only have around 2 per year who actually follow through with needing a conference before the first progress report comes out 2 weeks later.

Bonus Open House Night Tip

Keep it clean.  Your classroom should be as tidy and clean as you and your students can get it.  Of course, if you're working on a project that's half finished there's no shame leaving that as a "learning artifact."  But if your desk looks like mine (crazy) sort the mad piles of papers into folder and stack them.  Hide stuff in drawers if you must.  Threaten bribe remind students to clean the floor and work areas.  I don't actually make them clean inside their desks (I want parents to see the real deal if organization is something their child needs to improve and I mention it to them later on).

If you'd like an editable packet for your open house, you can check out my Open House Packet here.  Or read below for some project ideas! also want to thank everyone for their continued support (in regards to the last Teachers Pay Teacher Sale).  My gift to you during this latest sale (August 22 only) is a product I revamped over summer vacation:  Back to School Survey for Parents and Students.  This product will help you get to know your new students from their perspectives as well as their parents' perspectives.  I've found both of these surveys helpful over the years! if you are looking for more surveys and first week activities, I also have a new bundle of all my old favorites:

This includes the above product, a reading survey, writing survey, Multiple Intelligences inventory, and the original Figure Me Out math activity.  Figure Me Out 6-in-1 Surveys Bundle.  It's a great way to get to know your quieter students, as well as aspects of your students that you may not see in the classroom.  Enjoy!
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